Sunday, September 24, 2006

I Think the Professor Doth Protest Too Much

I recall the first time I realized the power of history; it was my freshman year of high school. In a discussion on the Puritan’s persecution of the Quakers and the Salem Witch Trials, my teacher had said that it seems that when ever a persecuted religion gains power itself, it begins to persecute those who disagree with it. In the simple faith of my youth, I protested that my religion had never done that. Mr. Nielson assigned me to read Wauneta Brooks, *Mountain Meadows Massacre*. How my eyes were opened.

Wednesday, Sept 20, 2006, I attended the Arrington Lecture at the LDS tabernacle in Logan Utah. There Professor Thomas Alexander of BYU presented his spiel concerning the efforts of Brigham Young and the brethren to investigate and “deal” with the Mountain Meadows Massacre?

The highlight of the evening (for me) was Alexander’s reference to Professor George Ellsworth as his mentor and example as a great teacher. I believe I recall Alexander saying that, George Ellsworth was the greatest teacher he had ever had. The same is true for me!! I don’t believe I ever stand before my students but that George Ellsworth is somewhere in my mind.

Unfortunately Alexander was no Ellsworth. He must have done his best in the crowded hour long power point presentation, but it soon became obvious that his agenda did not agree with the facts or with his knowledge of them.

It comes down to this.

Q – Did Brigham Young order the Mountain Meadows Massacre?

A – We can never know, but he had definitely set the stage in the minds of his fanatic followers necessary to carry out the slaughter. He had sent his minions throughout the territory to preach resistance to the American Army on its way to the Great Basin. He had been preparing the “Saints” for a siege in the mountains and told them that this time they would not retreat but would stand and fight. He had sought and made treaties with Indian tribes to fight against Americans and had even contracted with them to steal the cattle of immigrant companies to run off to the mountain strongholds he planed to build.

Q – Did Brigham Young do every thing he could have done to find out what happened at Mountain Meadows?

A – We can never know, but we do know that what he told, or allowed his surrogates to tell, the world did not describe what actually happened. I believe that Brigham Young knew exactly what happened immediately after the massacre. He promulgated other stories, while he was himself getting different information, the truth. The point here is that if Brigham Young was as deceived as he claimed to be, he was not doing his best to find out the truth, and if he did find out the truth, he intentionally obfuscated. He sent George A. Smith, whose preaching had stirred up the Furies requisite for the massacre in the first place, to investigate it. The details of Smith’s investigation and of the four other investigations Young ordered between 1859 and 1870 are unknown. The official reports did not enlighten the truth. His motives for doing this would be worthy of consideration but that does not alter the fact that he was not telling all he knew or was not finding out all he could. Young was Governor of the Utah Territory at the time of the Massacre and President of the Church. He surly could have mounted an adequate investigation had he wanted to. I believe he did and then covered up his findings.

Q – Were the people responsible for Mountain Meadows adequately dealt with?

A – Absolutely not. The Civil War interrupted the government’s ability and desire to investigate the massacre; which occurred in Sept. 1857 but was not widely know for a year afterwards. When efforts to find the truth were re-initiated in the 1870’s the trail was either cold or well covered.

Although the actual activities of “that terrible day” were well known by 1870, as were the names of the culprits, only one man – Jon D. Lee – was made the scapegoat for the murders, and executed. Case closed?

Professor Alexander Summarized his presentation on four points. Here are my notes on his summation questions and answers:

1. Did the leadership investigate? Yes.

2. Did the leadership try to help the federal government? Yes.

3. Could they have done more? Yes.

4. Did they deal fairly with those involved in the incident? No

Here are Professor Alexander’s summery questions with my answers:

1. Did the leadership investigate? Yes, but they either intentionally chose not to do so properly, highly unlikely, or they found out the whole ugly truth within days and spent a century covering it up.

2. Did the leadership try to help the federal government? They said they had, but they did not help the government as much as they could have had they really wanted the government to know the truth. They then blamed failure on the feds. The truth is that Brigham Young was himself governor until 1859 and neither needed nor wanted the permission or support from other federal officials to discover the truth and punish the perpetrators.

3. Could they have done more? Yes, in fact, I believe they did do more. Brigham Young and Church leaders surely knew the truth, but buried it rather than bring it to light and punish all who committed murder in God’s name. They misled and then hid under the cover provided by the Civil War. When the war was over, they did not bring forth the truth but rather offered up Jon D. Lee as a scapegoat sacrifice for the benefit of the Church and its Leaders.


4. Did the church leadership deal fairly with those involved? [in this mass murder carried out by religious fanatics?] No. The President and Apostles who preaching had instigated the hatred and the circumstances requisite for murder never publicly took responsibility for their actions; in fact they hid the truth from the world for generations. Those who actually took part in the murders (save one) were never brought to trial, and the Stake President and Bishop who ordered the massacre were never punished. Although Haight, the stake president, was excommunicated for a time in 1870, he was eventually reinstated in the church. The bishop, (Lee was not the Bishop!) who had supreme secular authority over the killers, was not disciplined by church or state. The men who did the actual killing were not brought to justice or ever put on trial for their crimes; they hid their secret throughout their lives and died thinking they had gotten away with murder. The only one to pay for his sins, in this life, was Jon D. Lee. His show trial was to end the issue, and once it became clear he no longer intended to go like a lamb to the slaughter; he was taken to Mountain Meadows, forced to sit down on his own coffin, and shot. [It is interesting that Jon D. Lee, excommunicated at the time for mass murder, has had all of his priesthood blessings restored. It gives me hope for Judas.]

NOW WE HAVE ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF OBFICATION AND DECIETE: That Bill Clinton’s cowardice, inaction, and preoccupation with a young girl “working” in his office set the stage for 9/11 is well know. Now comes Clinton claiming he did everything he could to get bin Laden. I heard him today claim that he tried to get bin Laden – and the failure was everybody’s fault but his own.

I have long chuckled at the 9/11 commission. One of the members was Jamie Gorelick, the very Clintonista who put up the wall between the CIA and the FBI that prevented our national intelligence agencies from detecting and stopping the September attacks. Talk about sending George A. Smith to investigate the Mountain Meadows Massacre.

I wonder what answer Fox News would have expected to get from Brigham Young if they had been able to ask him if he had ordered the Mountain Meadows Massacre. The same one they got by asking Bill Clinton if 9/11 was his fault.

I think the “lady” doth protest too much!

140 comments:

truth to power said...

I'm going to try to defend Clinton a little here. Our country's anti-terrorism activities during his presidency, other than those phony bombings, were basically what the people wanted. I've made the point here before that we've been selfish and isolationist on this issue for a while. It took an attack on our own soil to get Americans to say we should do something about the terrorists, and that already appears to be going out of style.

In our system of representative democracy, I think we usually get pretty much the government the majority wants. Any other president would have done just about the same things about terrorism that Clinton did. And if not for 9/11, I think Bush would be continuing the same policies. Don't blame the president; blame the people.

MindMechanic said...

I was a lousy student in high school. Chalk it up to no parents and a poor work habit. I excelled in three areas...debate, drama, and history. I LOVE history. When I was a kid I would spend hours by myself reading history textbooks left by other older kids. I dont know how I graduated from high school (I do know I wouldnt have today) but I still managed to get full credit in AP History.

My favorite history teacher taught us that history should be studied and not judged. It makes sense. When you look at history without bias you can learn from it. Any time we look back at history with judgemental perspectives we are looking with a slant...an angle. Hindsight is always 20/20.

Its easy to allow bias in. You MAY fairly judge actions of individuals as long as you fairly keep them in historical perspective and especially in light of society's social and moral development.

I think there is definitely a benefit to studying the nations actions throughout history. Part of the problem we have today is every one wants to examine the Bush administration and its action in light of "right now." Thats really not possible. He inherited a climate as will his successor.

To fairly study US foreign policy you have to go back decades, not just a few presidencies. You have to examine the aftermath of WW2, the stated goal of communism and the actions of communists in acheiving that goal. You have to ask yourself what a world would look like with a Soviet Union in control of the worlds oil fields and then ask yourself just what the Soviet union had to gain with their south and westward expansion. THEN you begin to understand US foreign policy decision making from the 1950's to today.

It is interesting that Clintons defenders seem to be the same ones that have spent 6 years demanding of Bush to admit mistakes. I suppose Clintons recent statements should be turned inward...did Clinton and all the Clinton defenders ask themselves the same hard questions that they ask today of Bush?

Mistakes have been made and heres a news flash...they always will be made. There isnt a definite known right or wrong in how to combat the modern threat. What CAN be learned is this.

1-Vigilance shouldnt be a catch phrase or a key word. It should be a standard.
2-National security should be extended privelege above partisanship (not to worry...there is still plenty to argue and hate each other over).
3-The words of the Charlie Daniels song ought to be clearly understood..."we may do a little bit of fighting between ourselves, but y'all best leave us alone." Can I tell you how shocked I was (and to be honest a little bit proud) to see Charlie Rangel and Nancy Pelosi come out swinging in defense of the President (OK...maybe just the presidency, but still) against Hugo Chavez? THATS the spirit that should ALWAYS be present in matters of national defense.
4-C'mon congress...ENGAGE. Work together and do your job so Bill Clinton and George Bush arent left to do YOUR JOB for you.

I served under 4 presidents. Our government is set up to where we dont get to choose which orders or leaders we want to follow. I was ordered into combat environments under all 4. The military did all it was asked and more. I wish people truly knew just how much more.

I think Bush could do more, but would congress stand behind him? Doubtful. I think Clinton could have done more. Did congress stand behind him? No.

There are lessons to be learned from history. There is also the lesson of what happens when we fail to learn those lessons.

a quiet listener said...

As usual I don't feel like I can offer too much by way of the political discussion. I would however like to speak about the mountain meadow massacre for a moment. Lysis knows how to lure me into a discussion.

This isn't the first time Lysis has torn the scab off of that painful occurrence. I imagine all people must be made to realize at one point or another a difficult truth. The earthly church organization is imperfect. Apostles and Prophets are at the end of the day subject to mistakes like the rest of us. The church as Christ would have it and how it eventually will be however; is perfect.

As I read this post last night and thought on it I remembered James and John, the latter whom Jesus himself describedas His Beloved. These two were apostles holding trusted important positions.

Read Luke 9:51-56

Jesus and His traveling companions arrived at a Samaritan village and after requesting to stay the night they were rejected. In thier inidgnation and religious fanatacism James and John came to their Master, and proposed that the offending villagers should be destroyed by fire from heaven. This seems impossible considering that John himself had been in Christ's company when he told the Samarian woman by the well of the glorious new era that was dawning.

How could Christ love such men? The answer is that God and Christ can see us for what we will become and not what we are. After the Christ used the opportunity to teach them a lesson they went on to carry the gospel message to all the world (certainly even to that same village)

One must believe that these two apostles were serious in their request. "Wilt Thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them?" they asked him already obvoiusly anticipating a positive reply. They went so far as to quote to Jesus the story of Elijah when fire from heaven burned the messengers from a king of Samaria.

Noone can deny their mistaken religious fanatacism. One religious scholar said of zealotry: " It is of the very nature of zealotry to make the man of whom it has taken possession believe that the Almighty not only approves, but shares his fierce passions, and fancy himself in trusted with a carte blanche to launch the thunders of the Most High against all in whom his small, peering, inhuman eye can discern aught not approved by his tyrannic conscience. "

Jesus' reply to this ridiculous proposition was not to unloose his fire from heaven to destroy these lowly uninformed sinners. He saved his wrath for the people of the covenant who knew better but didn't live their teachings. ie the cleansing of the temple.

"Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of." was Jesus' reply and by saying a few words He rebuked these two Sons of Thunder into understanding their error. The value of these zealots was no more in God's eyes than the vulgar sinners who had denied Christ what was then considered a basic hospitality to be rendered even to enemies.

We are lucky to have the Bible in its entirety so that we can learn from the mistakes of others, including highly trusted figures in the church. What a marvellous change in heart these two apostles had. In the end thier foolish short-sightedness was covered up by their abounding good works.

God certainly valued the souls of those who were killed in the Mountain Meadow Massacre just as much as thier murderers. The Church did not handle the situation correctly. One can only hope that, like the Sons of Thunder, they would go on to repair the evils committed and change. The good that the modern day church has done for the entire world is immesurable. Just as the good that James and John did for the church is immesurable. By their fruits ye shall know them is true, but this life is a probationary time for learning. Such learning comes from experience. Experience comes from mistakes. And mistakes we all have enough to learn from.

Lysis said...

Truth to Power:

I think you have hit upon the great and grave difference between Bill Clinton and George Bush. Clinton did – always did and said _ what he thought the majority of the country wanted. President Bush has done and said what the country needs. In a nation of Law like our own, the tyranny of the majority only has sway over those who pander to it. This is the difference between a tyrant and a leader.

Mindmechanic:

I would question your great history teacher in this at least. Can we not judge right and wrong in any time? Those things by which we can judge history do not change over time. There was a time when slavery was considered right by many, perhaps even the majority, but slavery was still wrong. There was a time when Nazis thought the murder of people because of their race was acceptable, but it was wrong for the Nazis and it was wrong for the Israelites.

Surely the defeat of the USSR was a worthy use of Muslim fanatics even as the defeat of Hitler was a worth while uses of Soviet Might.

But what we can be thankful for is we had leaders – including Truman, LBJ, and Nixon as well as Ronald Reagan who were willing to do the unpopular things necessary to hold the Communist monster at bay.

The Republicans in Congress stood strongly behind Clinton in his feeble efforts and they call for more. Clinton would now paint them the villains and exonerate his own failures. Check out the difference in force allocation in Somalia under Bush I and Clinton and you have an idea of how bin Laden came to believe America soldiers cowards and America lacking in the will necessary to preserve its way of life in the face of bin Laden’s fanatic religious zealots. Thank goodness he was wrong about our soldiers, and thank goodness that, as far as his ambitions are concerned, bin Laden faced off against the “Wrong President”!

A Quiet Listener:

You post is instructive and insightful. Brigham could have used you as and advisor; surely President Haight would have benefited from the quoting from Luck 9. How do you think Jesus would have dealt with J & J if they had murdered a village in a fit of pique? Fortunately for the Sons of Thunder Jesus was close at hand to teach them and all of us the truth. The rest of us can now read the message of the scripture and rely on the Light of Christ, our power to reason, the Mind of Devine Jupiter.

Strategos said...

Lysis

I did read the post

Cameron said...

President Clinton's response to the TV show.

The script writer's response to the TV show bashers.

MindMechanic said...

Lysis,

I disagree. When we look back with judgement we are no longer historians. Our bias enables 'historians' to write phrases describing history as despicable and disgusting when describing historical events (such as the the first slave auction in Jamestown). Despicable as compared to what? Every society of the day was practicing and engaging in the act. We lose sight of that when we judge history.

I recently read a historical text which actually excused and justified the Afrcian slave traders for engaging in trade with Europeans because they expected the Europeans to be as "honorable" and "humane" as the African and ancient middle eastern traders. Excuse me? Ive done just a wee bit of reading and know that the estimates are that some 12 million young men between the age of 8 and 15 were taken as slaves and sold. I know that those 12 million were castrated and that 1/3 didnt survive the castration. The remaining were worked to death. THAT humane treatment? No...describing the African slave traders in such a light is not a work of history, it is a revionist form of hysteria that compliments the idea that white men are evil.

And thats the problem of judging history. Bias.

Now...can we judge people? Well...fairly...sure. There were slave owners that were brutal and evil men. They can be identified. You mention Hitler...sure...he can be judged. Because their actions were outside of the societal norms it is fairly easy to judge them for who or what they are.

I wont go into the misconceptions taught by hysterians over the Indians, Aborigines, etc etc etc...

Thats just my two cents.

Which is NOT say there werent others more wise and enlightened that DIDNT engage in slavery and recognized it as a wrong thing even then. But it was the societal norm.

Lysis said...

Mindmechanic:

That slavery is wrong is “our bias”? Just because “every society of the day was practicing and engaging in slavery” makes it somehow OK in the past?

Your second paragraph seems to completely contradict your first. If you had not been taught the truth about slavery in history and been able to assess it as evil, surely a judgment call, you could not have condemned the liars. Please note that blacks harvested and sold slaves. The black men involved in the slave trade were just as evil as the white men. Slavery is always evil; we can always judge history by that truth.

Everyone is going to judge history by their bias. All you have to do is listen to Clinton lie about his record and attack the Bush administration to know how falsifying history can be used as a weapon. But being able to judge the evil and the truth of the past is an important ability necessary to keep us free from those who will manipulate the past to control the present. There are plenty of “history” books that attempt to spin history, but a blanket statement that equates the judgment of evil with bias is misguided at best. We might not be able to know the bias of historians, but we can judge right and wrong. We have reason by which to judge everything, including history

MindMechanic said...

Of course it was never 'right'. Please dont mistake my meaning. It wasnt 'right' just because it was the norm. It was simply the norm. From a historical perspect it would have been abnormal had slavery in America NOT taken place. Europeans were practicing a tradition passed down from generations.

I think the reason we have made relatively little progress in race relations is because we DONT learn and understand history. We judge it and the people, and generations later we still own the actions. There is no power in that.

In approx 1619 a freed indentured servant named Anthony Johnson went before the courts of the commonwealth and petitioned for the right to lifetime ownership of another man. His petition was awarded. If historical records are accurate that was the first case of a free colonial settler 'owning' another man.

Wrong? Sure...but he was just practicing the traditions he was raised with, that he saw as normal. The courts acted in accordance with the commonly accepted practice of the day.

I'm not excusing it nor am I justifying it. I think there is power in learning about it. I think it is interesting to know that slavery was practiced in every culture throughout time. Races seperated by continents still engaged in slavery.

I also think it is powerful to learn the progress this country made and the pace it did so. We are still a baby when compared to many of the other countries, yet two of the initial states outlawed slavery before they signed the constitution. Slavery importation was banned before 1820, less than 50 years after we became an official independent country. The total practice of slavery was banned after only 80 years. Had the north and south not used slavery as a weapon agaisnt each other I believe the practice would have had a far more healthy end.

All I am suggesting is that the real power is in learning from history, not judging the actions of societies. If you do judge then you judge judge using the existing societal norms. And judge fairly. Judge ALL countries equally.

I just prefer not to judge.

AGAIN...not to say we cant judge the actions of individuals. Their actions both good and bad often stand apart from accepted norms and by their actions they can be judged. I just dont find a lot of value in assessing judgement.

Understanding...absolutely...but not judgement.

As to your last statement..>I agree that people judge with their bias. Thats my whole point. Thats why we view things in such a screwed up manner.

We dont have to judge Clintons words...we can examine the historical records. What he said in the interview that aired last week is worthless. The historical record speaks clearly. But based on slant, some believe his version of hystery and some believe the conservative slant that paints him as far worse than he was.

To me, he was just plain ol bubba. Bill C was the same guy when we elected him as he is today. He didnt become corrupt, his history proved he already was corrupt. How could we have expected anything different...he got rewarded for his past by being nominated and ultimatley winning the presidency.

Lysis said...

Mindmechanic:

We must not judge the past of anyone by social norms. We judge according to truth, by universal and eternal laws, that is what is known as Justice.

“I agree that people judge by bias” – “I agree that people own slaves”- neither one of these is right. Bias and social norms are not the way to judge the actions of people in the past, neither their bias nor our own; we must judge by what is right and wrong. What is right and wrong? We must determine by reason and faith!

I prefer to judge:

Slavery has always been wrong. Mass Murder has always been wrong. Individual murder has always been wrong – from Cain on down! Removing the natural rights of men – Life, Liberty and Property – has always been unjust. These are not new Ideas. Read the *Iliad* – Agamemnon lost his right to be Achilles king for unjust behavior. Good and evil were not invented in the 21st century. This is one of the most valuable lessons of History.

I agree with you last two paragraphs. We know the type of man Clinton is by what history teaches about him. The last time he wagged his finger at us he was lying. He is lying this time too. That a liar could be elected president is not surprising in a nation that refuses to judge right and wrong by anything but social norms; one where history students are taught not to judge at all. It takes a people with the long view of history as an example of what to do and what not to do to be able to reject such evil.

MindMechanic said...

I dotn think we are all too much off...just different ways to learn I suppose. I see more value in understanding why than in judging good or bad. I suppose that aspect helped me choose my career path.

I dont disagree...slavery was always wrong. (and slavery is just one of the many examples we can talk about).

My position would be that rather than judge early colonial setlers and early America and see slavery as this wedge that divides us still, why dont we understand that EVERY society practiced slavery (and that in fact it still occurs in parts of the world today)? Rather than judge white European settlers as racist and thus the creators of racial disharmony in America, wouldnt it be more powerful to truly understand what the slavery picture was in Early America and NOT the picture of slavery taught that is designed to induce guilt and encourage a socialist response because of that guilt (ie-our ancestry was bad and wrong, we must create social programs to atone for their sins)?

I think if anyone did some real research into the slavery in America picture and in the world in general and oh yeah...in the world TODAY, what they would see would have them coming away asking themselves "why didnt they teach me that in school???"

I agree...its always wrong. I just think there is more power to studying and learning and not in judging.

We can do the same thing in studying the worlds response postwar Germany following WW1, WW2, and then learning historical perspectives as they apply to the post Iraq war era. Powerful lessons to be learned!

Lysis said...

We have come to agreement: (What a delightful out come for an argument!)

As a student of history I am interested in learning all the “facts” about the past that I can. As a human being I must assess the right and wrong of the past to facilitate Justice in the world and my life.

I do believe that slave holders and murders always knew they were doing wrong. They forced them selves to do evil against their natures. This also goes on today. There is always a way to judge “do not unto others that which you would not have them do to you.” Confucius.

truth to power said...

But they DID teach me that in school! Of course there were those teachers who tried to slant my judgment towards their own politics, but for the most part I really don't think facts were withheld. Human memory is weak, and we tend to remember impressions more than specific details. Students may frequently come away from a history class thinking rich white men are the root of all evil, but I don't think it's because they've been taught a selective set of facts. My best history teachers were those who gave us the facts and then challenged us to spend some real time and effort analyzing them and JUDGING the events of the past.

MindMechanic said...

"Please note that blacks harvested and sold slaves. The black men involved in the slave trade were just as evil as the white men. Slavery is always evil; we can always judge history by that truth."

See...I think maybe I just am not on my game here. My intent was not to describe one as evil and the other as acceptable. I was POINTING OUT that THAT is what this particular hysterian was doing. She was judging history and disseminating, using her own bias. She was excusing and justifying the African slave traders and their dealings with Europeans because (according to her) the African slave traders were really nice people and had expectations that the slaves they sold would be treated well.

And that of course is simply mindless blather. The slave traders could not have cared less and had no illusions that these people would be treated well. They didnt take other tribesmen as a favor to them. they didnt capture them and sell them because they thought they were doing them a favor.

but THIS is what happens when we assign bias to history.

People say that history will be unkind to Bush or unkind to Clinton. Nah. Writers will be unkind to both. History will just view their actions and state them for what they were.

MindMechanic said...

Truth...I dont challenge your words. I am curious...were you taught in school that the first person to petition for the right to own slaves was Anthony Johnson...a black man? Were you taught that percentage wise more freed blacks owned slaves (28%) than did whites (5%)? Were you taught in history classes that at the time of the civil war there were more black slave owners in Lousiana than there were white slaveowners and that those black slave owners sent their slaves to fight with the south?

Were you taught the historical perspective on slavery? Were you taught that it still exists today?

We are taught the Indian nation was a peaceful people that loved the land. Really??? History says otherwise. History says that Indian tribes were violent brutal, and travelled the land using resources until the resources were expended and then moving on to the next. History says they engaged in wars, in slavery, and that they could have taught the European settlers a thing or two about REAL brutality.

But thats NOT what we are taught or at least not what is commonly taught. We are taught that all was well and beautiful and lovely and peaceful until the white man came along.

And of course...history teaches us that many white settlers DID behave in a manner that was brutal. Many of the slaves owned were natives. Settlers conquered, as has every nation throughout history. It was seen as their destiny, their right (and in a connection to past discussions, Darwins teachings sort of fed that concept or at least made people feel better about themselves for doing it).

I hope more teachers are like the ones you have experience with, teachers that challenge their students to examine both sides, to dig and to find the real truths of history.

MindMechanic said...

"We have come to agreement"

I should have looked at the posts before I posted my last...maybe we would have ended on a peaceful note! ;-)

I really think we dont disagree. I hope that I have stated clearly enough that I as a person can look at the practice of slavery and see that it is despicable. I hope that my character is such that if I had lived in the 16th and 17th century that I would have been one of those few opposed to slavery even when it was commonly practiced.

Its luxurious for me to hold that position sitting here comfortably in the 21st century.

It is interesting to consider what people in the 23rd century will think about me...how I will be judged. Will I be judged as an angry neanderthal throwback that believed that it is was right and acceptable to engage in brutal behavior in defense of country, family, and self. Will I be seen as an individual that believed in practices and ideologies better suited for the dark ages? Who is to say? What will society look like in 200 years? Will there even be a society in 200 years?

Reach Upward said...

What I read between the lines here is that absolute truth -- right and wrong -- do exist, and it is appropriate and necessary to judge historical events in this light. But it is also important to learn historical context, both to aid our judgment and to help us understand conditions that could lead to similar goods or evils (found in history) in our day.

I know a historian that has studied the MMM every which way from breakfast. He roughly agrees with Lysis. However, he also says that it's important to understand that in the minds of BY and most of the Intermountain Mormons, the US Government was at war with them in a very real way. They felt that full disclosure of the facts would be akin to turning over information to the enemy that could have resulted in the very real demise of their religion, their culture, and their way of life.

Was evil done? Yes. The murders were evil. Was the failure to fully disclose evil? That becomes much more difficult to judge, given the situation noted above. What we can do is learn from this situation so that we understand how to avoid similar evils in our day. Had not the first evils occurred (certainly helped along by fanatical fomentation), the perceived need to make decisions regarding coverup would never have occurred. This is instructive in our day and age.

-----

There is no question that the Clinton administration was soft on terror. But I agree with TtoP that the American people likely would not have tolerated stronger military action. Even the current Bush administration's terrorism policies prior to 9/11 did not differ substantially from the Clinton administration's policies.

Looking back in time, we see that even Ronald Reagan approved the Marine pullout from Lebanon after the attack on our Marines there. In hindsight, we can see that this was one element in firming up the concept of American weakness and decadence in the minds of the terrorist fanatics.

As little as some like to admit it, 9/11 changed everything. It caused our whole nation to focus on something that had only been a relatively minor focus before that. We see this same kind of thing occurring throughout history. We also see occasions where threats were nipped in the bud and where leaders ran down blind paths after perceived threats that turned out to be not so threatening.

It would be nice to go back in time and address the Islamofacist threat before it became powerful enough to pull off 9/11, but we can't do that. We can only deal with the situation we have today.

The question before us now is; do we choose to win -- or not?

Lysis said...

Mindmechanic:

It seems to me that your real problem is with the many poor teachers of history found in our high schools and colleges. I am also much distressed by these. Political Correctness stifles open discussion and the presentation of the facts, the truths, one needs in order to judge. Intellectual laziness and just plain ignorance handy cap many who are in positions to greatly improve the knowledge of students but fail in their duty. It is, of course, impossible in any History class to teach every side and every fact. What a good teacher must do is stir in their students the desire to know as much as possible so that judgments about the past, present, and future can be set in the truth. Unfortunately not all student want to be stirred!

I will make a prediction that in two hundred years the atrocity that our decedents will most shake their heads at and judge us for is the millions of human beings murdered each year under the banner of “choice”. Abortion is the greatest abomination, and for the record, I want to come out against it now. If logic and reason are not swallowed up in fanatic Iron Age “Islamic” fundamentalism the day will surely come when all human beings – the born and the unborn - will be equally valued. Surely the sanctity of innocent human life is one constant we can count on until the end of time.

Lysis said...

Reach Upward:

Where was Brigham Young’s faith? Did he really believe that God’s kingdom was so fragile that punishing mass murderers would topple it? Perhaps his miss judgment then will cause great damage to his credibility and the believability of the Church today. It does not seem the way of a Just God to cover up atrocities for fear of retaliation. We will never know what a just and prompt response by the Governor of Utah and the President of the Mormon Church would have had on that religion – because we got neither – but to excuse Brigham Young’s failure of Character in an attempt to protect God (and His Church) from the truth seems an incredible stance to me.

As far as the “relatively minor focus” of the world on terror before 9/11 – I refer you to comments made by the President of Afghanistan at his news conference today with President Bush. The evils of terror long predate 9/11. I did not agree with Reagan’s retreat fro Beirut – but Reagan soon learned his lesson – note his response to Gaddafi. Also, if I may, Reagan had bigger fish to fry.

As for Clinton’s failure – I judge him not only on his in action but on his motives for such. Had he a sliver of the character and resolve of our present President he would have bagged a few minnows before they became the sharks they proved to be.

Having said all this –you final observation rings true. It is now time to decide if we will fight or parish. That Clinton and his party are still willing to play politics with terror shows not only their weakness but their perfidy.

MindMechanic said...

Reach...I agree...far more value in studying to learn for future growth than in condemning those of the past. Good post. (because of course it happily coincides with mine!) ;-)

MindMechanic said...

Lysis,

I agree...I do have a problem with the lack of learning that has been associated with PC. My kids for years would come home just exasperated with some of their teachers because they actually dared to speak their mind when the teacher would go off on an indoctrination bent. I always encouraged my kids to HAVE a point of view and be educated enough so that it was their own and not mine or any other one persons. Seems that a lot of teachers are threatened by that. I've had the same experience with graduate professors.

Uh oh...you said the A word. I wonder where THAT goes...

;-)

MindMechanic said...

"the sanctity of innocent human life"

Interesting how that phrase gets used. Not in your example...just overall...

Selective.

MindMechanic said...

I think Clinton has spent 6 years walking a tight rope hoping his adminstrations actions would not come to immediate scrutiny. He has never been too verbal about Bush and has in fact in many ways tried to be delicately complimentary.

I think his rage showing is because his worst fears are becoming realized. People might actually look at his record.

Hey...Ive said all along...he's just Bubba. Dick Morris told us everything about him that else I need to know...he cheats at golf.
Case closed.

Lysis said...

I was interested that Bill Clinton is claiming that there are three contradictions to the 9/11 report in the ABC docudrama - *The Path to 9/11*. Of course he has never mentioned what they are or where anyone could check to find them referenced. However, I figured there must be some specific reference to the “Three Lies” of ABC some were. All I could find was a screed on the Neo-Lib web log – Think Progress. I cut and pasted it below:
“ThinkProgress has obtained a response to this scene from Richard Clarke, former counterterrorism czar for Bush I, Clinton and Bush II, and now counterterrorism adviser to ABC:
1. Contrary to the movie, no US military or CIA personnel were on the ground in Afghanistan and saw bin Laden.
2. Contrary to the movie, the head of the Northern Alliance, Masood, was no where near the alleged bin Laden camp and did not see UBL.
3. Contrary to the movie, the CIA Director actually said that he could not recommend a strike on the camp because the information was single sourced and we would have no way to know if bin Laden was in the target area by the time a cruise missile hit it.”
In five hours of otherwise unchallenged reenactment of events leading up to 9/11 the spinsters supporting the Clinton Myth can only find these three feeble challenges to the program. Let me answer each from my position as a lay observer.

1. No CIA personnel on the ground that saw bin Laden in the Afghanistan compound. The CIA knew who and where bin Laden was and they were not allowed to get him. Clinton could have ordered the many strikes – bin Laden was hardly hiding in those days – but he was unwilling to face the heat from his pacifist backers.

2. Masood was not on the ground the day Clinton missed bin Laden. So – he was in Afghanistan and willing to support the American effort to kill bin Laden, an effort that lacked support by the Clinton White House. And Clinton still missed bin Laden.

3. The CIA director said he could not recommend a strike because . . . I would simply ask what Clinton recommended. Who was in charge of the operation – the CIA or the President?

Clinton has taken these flimsy flaws and tried to discredit a docudrama that masterfully caught the tenor of the Clinton administration’s failure. We will never hear, in the Neo-Lib controlled media, the details of these “Three Lies”. They are in reality petty and silly faults to find, All the Neo-Libs want to do is shout over and over again that there were three; because once the details are reveled Clinton is left as culpable for the failure as he would be if the movie version had been 100% accurate.

It is a typical debate tactic of a losing position. When you have nothing to answer a critic with – just call names and shake you finger and cry shame on you! Come on Clinton – Give us the facts of shut up.

It reminds me of the apologist professor excusing the failures of Brigham Young to bring justice to murders in the territory he governed because no one else was able to do it.

Reach Upward said...

Lysis, I did not intend to defend anything BY or other church leaders may have done wrong. I believe they will obviously answer to their God for that. I merely meant to suggest that knowledge of all applicable facts is imperative to rendering proper judgment.

I suppose that I also see murder (or being an accomplice to murder) in a morally different light than refusing to fully cooperate with notably hostile authorities. In the case of the former, it is wrong. Period. In the case of the latter, there are times when refusing to cooperate with a hostile government or obfuscating facts to its authorities can actually be a higher moral good.

We can have a great deal of discussion as to whether BY's actions rise to such a level or not. (I'm not sure that they do. But having studied history with regard to the environment in which they occurred, I'm also not so sure they they don't.)

But, at least any such discussion should be informed by a knowledge of as many facts as possible, including the social and political climate. It is one thing to cooly view these facts from our 21st Century vantage point, but quite another to be in the midst of the events themselves.

Part of me seriously wonders how I might have acted in similar circumstances. But I suppose that this is one of the purposes of studying history.

truth to power said...

Mindmechanic, I don't think I ever heard of Anthony Johnson in school, but I was certainly taught that many cultures had slavery, that some still do, and that free blacks owned slaves in America. And I would contend that Anthony Johnson was really an insignificant figure. It's not as if he created slavery, or it existed in America because of him.

I'm not really sure how important any of your historical facts is, except specifically for attacking the "evil rich white men" view of history. That wasn't the way I was taught. I got the impression that slavery was sort of an odd leftover of an obsolete culture, a bit of savagery in a usually more enlightened society. Amazingly, some Americans still can't let it go.

I also wasn't taught that the "Indian nation" (whatever that is) "was a peaceful people that loved the land." I've certainly seen that stuff portrayed in the popular culture, but it wasn't really what I got in school. My education on Native Americans is definitely lacking, but I think I got fairly accurate--if shallow--information on at least a few groups: Iroquois, Algonquin, Aztec, Inca, etc. I have some vague memories of a video we watched about the hypothesis that a certain Mayan group ruined their own environment through poor methods of farming and irrigation. Nobody tried to tell me them injuns took better care of the land.

I had at least 3 excellent history teachers who really believed in giving us the facts and an opportunity to think about them. I don't know how common my experiences are, but I hope they're fairly normal. I'm in my early thirties and tended to take the advanced classes; maybe that's relevant. One historical event I don't know much about is the Mountain Meadows Massacre, but it doesn't exactly loom large in American history.

MindMechanic said...

Truth...glad to know that there are teachers out there that arent bound by the shackles of PC.

I really didnt want this to be an arguement about slavery. Lysis challenged my perspective on not judging history and used the slavery example as in once wrong always wrong. I dont disagree, but dont think its that simple in a historical context.

I have to say that my own perspective of what is commonly taught is the sanitized and PC version. I'm glad that isnt your experience. Maybe there is hope.

Anonymous said...

Hey Now

The past is told by those who win

My darlin'

What matters is what hasn't been

-Jimmy eat World

Anonymous said...

"The past is told by those who win"

Or those with an agenda.

a quiet listener said...

Could it possibly be that the same anonymous that I disagree with on almost everything listens to my favorite band?

Lysis said...

Yes History is told by the winners, and by those who have agendas; it is also told by the losers and those who have no agenda other than that the truth not be forgotten. It is those who come to learn history, to use it, that we must most carefully scrutinize. Those “Social Historians” who bring their agenda to the study table and search out pegs to force into their pre-cut holes or those who, like Bill Clinton, re-write history whole-cloth to fit their aspirations.

There are many who are daunted by the study of History. When I taught Jr. High, I found few students capable of even comprehending the value of History; let alone capable of drawing conclusions and making judgments based on their studies. Most Jr. High students, who apply themselves, find math and science doable, but history eludes them. Science and Math fit the “modern reason” where proofs and empirical evidence can be observed but where the higher “divine” functions of the human mind are not employed. There are truths that are “Self Evident” but modern scientific philosophy denies their existence because they cannot be crunched through formula or squeezed into a test tub.

I have been enjoying an article my lawyer put me on to - *Socrates or Muhammad* by Lee Harris in *the Weekly Standard*. Lee examines the arguments put forward by Pope Benedict XVI in a speech the Pope delivered on Sept 12. The speech was titled “Faith, Reason, and the University”. The Pope, who Lee refers to as Ratzinger” makes some powerful points that deal directly with some of the confusion concerning History we are facing at the Agora – and which students and other interested minds come up against as they seek truth in History. From Lee’s article:

“But, as Ratzinger notes, modern reason is a far more limited and narrow concept than the Greek notion of reason. The Greeks felt that they could reason about anything and everything – about the immortality of the soul, metempsychosis, the nature of God, the role of reasoning the universe, and so on. Modern reason, from the time of Kant, has repudiated this kind of wild speculative reason. For modern reason, there is no point in even asking such questions, because there is no way of answering them scientifically. Modern reason, after Kant, became identified with what modern science does. Modern science uses mathematics and the empirical method to discover truths about which we can all be certain: Such truth are called scientific truths. It is the business of modern reason to severely limit its activity to the discovery of such truths, and to refrain from pure speculation.”

“Ratzinger, it must be stressed, has no trouble with the truths revealed by modern science. He welcomes them. He has no argument with Darwin or Einstein or Heisenberg. What disturbs him is the assumption that scientific reason is the only form of reason, and that whatever is not scientifically provable lies outside the universe of reason. According to Ratzinger, the results of this “modern self-limitation of reason” are twofold. First, “the human sciences, such as HISTORY, psychology, sociology, and philosophy, attempt to conform themselves to this canon of scientificity.” Second, “by its very nature [the scientific] method excludes the question of God, making it appear an unscientific or per-scientific question.”

Anonymous’ assertions that history is manufactured by winners only, or by those who push agendas indicates the mind set of my seventh grade students, incapable of functioning on any level requiring more than physically measurable material. As our minds mature and our humanness develops, our divinity asserts itself, and men are able to contemplate abstractions and to recognize truths that cannot be quantified. Such knowledge requires far more work that Jr. High minds are willing to exert. We must go past the P.C. version of history, past the accounts of the winners, past the agendas of our teachers and of former Presidents and their spin machines, and find the truth. Otherwise we condemn ourselves to the narrow world of ignorance and puny bounds of scientific truth.

Reach Upward said...

The April 2005 edition of National Geographic had an article I enjoyed about Civil War Battlefields (text available here). The article discusses efforts to preserve Civil War battlefields.

The magazine always publishes a few select reader responses a few months after each edition's release. One reader wrote that she didn't care if all of the Civil War battlefields were paved over and covered with malls and fast food joints because she hated war. She saw no value in maintaining any kind of monument to something so inhumane.

Willful ignorance of history is at least as bad as (and is arguably worse than) ignorance due to immaturity.

Rumpole said...

Mindmechanic,

I know I am late in the discussion, but I think I have some interesting points to add. You post:

“I really didnt want this to be an arguement about slavery. Lysis challenged my perspective on not judging history and used the slavery example as in once wrong always wrong. I dont disagree, but dont think its that simple in a historical context.”

We agree that wrong always is wrong. As to right and wrong being not being “simple in a historical context”, consider the following from Thomas Jefferson, discussing slavery as the law of the land in America:


“The bill on the subject of slaves, was a mere digest of the existing laws respecting them, without any intimation of a plan for a future and general emancipation. It was thought better that this should be kept back, and attempted only by way of amendment, whenever the bill should be brought on. The principles of the amendment, however, were agreed on, that is to say, the freedom of all born after a certain day, and deportation at a proper age. But it was found that the public mind would not yet bear the proposition, nor will it bear it even at this day. Yet the day is not distant when it must bear and adopt it, or worse will follow. Nothing is more certainly written in the book of fate, than that these people are to be free; nor is it less certain that the two races, equally free, cannot live in the same government. Nature, habit, opinion have drawn indelible lines of distinction between them. It is still in our power to direct the process of emancipation and deportation, peaceably, and in such slow degree as that the evil will wear off insensibly, and their place be pari passu (equal basis), filled up by free white laborers. If, on the contrary, it is left to force itself on, human nature must shudder at the prospect held up.”

Jefferson himself was a slave owner. Even in a “historical context”, he knew that slavery was wrong, and he recognized the grave consequences if slavery continued. It seems to me that, at least in this case, it is simple, even in historical context.

Strategos said...

A Quiet listener

Sorry it wasn’t the anonymous that you disagree with it’s just little old me Strategos sorry I meant to post my name.

MindMechanic said...

Rumpole,

I appreciate your comments and agree. As I said earlier some states had already banned the practice before signing the constitution.

I think that is proof of two things.

1-This country, in its infancy, was already developing a changed social conscience.

2-Even though Jefferson could see it was wrong he could also recognize the difficulty in ending it and the requirement for doing it in a way that didnt cause lasting damage.

I think my main goal and my main hope would be to find a way for people simply to understand and learn from history. The races today are divided. Would it not be more powerful if we could all view ALL of history and not just a selective piece of history and find understanding together? Wouldnt it be more powerful if we understood that all races have engaged in and suffered through slavery?

I dont know...maybe I'm just way off base.

Strategos said...

I must admit I have become somewhat disillusioned in my study of History. I do agree with Lysis that the study of history can be enlightening. I also agree that it is wrong to try and place History, psychology or even Anthropology in the same category as Physics. I think the value of studying history is about the same as studying any story, (ha get it)you can use it as a mirror to the present. Robert graves said History offers us poetic truth not empirical evidence.

Rumpole said...

MindMechanic,

I apologize for continuing to be the antagonist; however, I see it differently.

As to your first point, I don't think that Jefferson's comments portray a developing social conscience, I think they portray an existing social conscience bent on appeasement.

To your second point, it is difficult for me to reconcile a Jefferson wanting to avoid "lasting damage" with a Jefferson that was at the forefront of a revolution designed to break from tyrannical rule.

Jefferson, along with his contemporaries, knew right from wrong. He was simply unwilling, for whatever reason, to face right from wrong in this instance.

That being said, it is very easy to see the wisdom in your words, that through history you hope "to find a way for people simply to understand and learn from history."

The best history teacher I had was rooted in the "whys" of history. The "why's" are what I enjoy the most. Why did Columbus set sail? Why did the Colonies revolt? Why did Lincoln free the slaves? Why are the races divided?

The solutions to great problems lie within those "whys."

truth to power said...

Yes, the American Revolution was a matter of radical change, but it had widespread popular support in the Colonies. The same could not be said for abolition in Jefferson's time. The founding fathers were not only leaders; they were representatives. And the American people weren't ready to free the slaves.

Lysis said...

Strategos:

I think there is great value in the study of Poetry – in fact Poetry is a great window into history. Not even necessarily the stories the poems tell, but the stories the poets choose to tell, tells us a lot about the way people thought and what their values were. How they perceived the world – which informs us on our common humanity.

But there is a value in historic fact as well. Like the evidence presented in a trial, the witnesses of History inform and instruct a judgment that must be made. They also allow us to be free from the manipulation of those who would miss represent the present basted on the past. Even as there are good and bad witnesses in the court – there are good and bad witnesses in History. Even as a wise judge, or jury, can weigh the evidence and testimony – seek collaboration and apply logic and reason to any testimony, so the careful student of history can sift the records of the past and come to sound conclusions. Often disparate facts combine to prove quite different occurrences than they were intended to record. I think of the tablets from Nineveh that bore the name of Agamemnon, the ruins of Troy found where Homer said they would be, the confessions of Nazi killers proven by mass graves of Poland, the accusations against Saddam reviled in their terrible truth by the mass graves of Iraq.

Where history is most powerful is when it is within our own memory. I listen with mounting disgust to the lies of Bill and now Hillary Clinton, as they try to spin Bill’s failure to fight terror into a phantasmal of a courageous and successful presidency. But I have not forgotten the truth, and so I am safe from the lies. I have read and considered the history of the time; placed it with in context the of my memory and uncovered the lies.

I listened to with interest to Lt. Col. Robert Patterson (Who carried the ‘black box’ for Clinton), attest tonight to the fact that Clinton had eight chances to get bin Laden, three while he was himself with him. I read Patterson’s book – *Dereliction of Duty* back in 2003. Not one of his claims has been refuted by Clinton’s army of apologists and defenders. We have bin Laden’s own testimony of his contempt for Clinton and his confidence that the cowardly Americans (represented in his mind by Billy C) to collaborate Patterson’s testimony. Finally we have our own recent memories of the feeble and ineffectual efforts of the Clinton administration in stopping terror. How Hillary did not choke on her words when she claimed husband Bill would have done more than Bush, I do not now. She knows as well as the rest of us about Clinton’s shameful retreat from Somalia, cowering before a few thugs in Haiti, failure to act after the bombing of the world trade center, or the destruction of our embassies in Africa, or the attack on an American war ship in Yemen.

Bill Clinton said Sunday he had war plans drawn to retaliate against the attack on the Cole (Sp). His own people have since come out and called him a liar. History allows us to remember the last time Clinton shook his finger at us and lied about Monaca Lewinsky; it allows us to remember how he lied under oath to a federal judge and under oath to a Grand Jury. History reminds us of Hillary’s indignity against a “vast right wing conspiracy” out to get her husband when she knew the truth as well as he did. Thus history allows us to judge Bill and Hillary’s lies this time around. There hope is that the people of America are ignorant of history, that they can get away with the lies as they did before. They count on our stupidity, on our short memories, on our utter ignorance of history. Hitler relied on the ignorance of his people, Stalin relied his people’s ignorance of history, bin Laden relies on the fact that there is no curiosity about history in the minds of his murdering minions, and Brigham Young counted on history not recording the crimes at Mountain Meadows. Why should Clinton be able to rely on that same ignorance of history? Open the flood gates of history; let everyone study and question and argue and recall. Let us set the past in context and then use our logic to root out the liars.

Rumpole:

I note that, while Jefferson was “dead on” as far as the evils of Slavery he had no understanding as regards the equality of races. Perhaps he should have spent more time reading his history books. Had he done so he might have stumbled across Cicero’s claim that there is nothing so alike in the world as one human being to another, that we, men and gods, are all one commonwealth of reason. History has demonstrated that the races can be equally free and live in the same government. History has proven that there are no “indelible lines of distinction between them.” Thus we can more clearly judge Jefferson – someone who recognized the evils of slavery but was himself victim to racism.

All:

Let me end with some interesting quotes from Patterson’s book, *Dereliction of Duty*:

“Though I was called upon to do many things for the president, the “football” was my primary responsibility. . . A military aide with the football is on duty twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, within feet of the president.

[At the Presidents Cup golf tournament in Lake Manassas, Virginia, Sept. 13, 1996.]

“As the rains relented, play resumed, and the president again took his position under the tent. I was summoned to Roadrunner, that black communications van manned by members of the Whit House Communications Agency. On the phone was Sandy Berger, the acting White House national security advisor. Berger wanted me to contact the president. He needed a decision quickly.”

“Major, we’re poised to launch air strikes on Iraq and I need the president’s nod.”

“I approached President Clinton, trying to attract his eye as respectfully as I could without unduly interfering in his conversation with Vernon Jordan. He looked at me with a perturbed sigh and frowning eyebrows. None the less, he asked, ‘What do you need, Buzz?”

“Sir, Mr. Berger is on the line and needs a decision about the proposed attack on Iraq.”

“Tell him I’ll get back with him later.”

“I returned to the communications van and the waiting phone. “Mr. Berger, the president said he’d get back to you later.” Berger groused and hung up.”

“These were busy days on the domestic and national security fronts. Just two weeks earlier, on August 31, Saddam Hussein had sent three tank divisions, composed of between thirty and forty thousand of the elite Republican Guard, to capture the northern Kurdish city of Irbil, forcing the mass exodus of from fifty thousand to three hundred thousand refugees, depending on differing United Nations reports. “

“. . . I was called back to the Roadrunner van and took another phone call from Berger. This time he was animated, obviously upset. The attack was to be launched undercover of darkness, and we were wasting valuable time. Pilots were in the cockpits waiting to launch, targets were identified everything was in place, all he needed was the go-ahead.”

“These were my peers in those cockpits, fellow Air Force officers and aviators. I could picture them. Mentally and emotionally I could place myself with them. I had been there myself, on the edge of a military operation headed into harm’s way and waiting for that chain of command to kick things off. I promised Berger, “I’ll make every effort to get to President Clinton as quickly as I can and explain the circumstances. I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.”

“This time, the president was engaged in conversation with several people and was less approachable. I maneuvered through the crowd and caught his eye. When President Clinton saw me, he seemed disturbed at being interrupted again with something unimportant. He frowned as I neared him. “Mr. President, Mr. Berger has called again and needs a decision soon.” I explained in a low tone, “We have our pilots in cock pits ready to launch, and we’re running out of the protective cover of nighttime over there.”

“Irritated at me and maybe at Berger, he said. “I’ll call Berger when I get a chance.”

“Optimistically, I interpreted this to mean soon. Maybe he wanted to find some time, some privacy, I surmised, and would then call Berger. At almost all presidential events, the staff creates what are called “presidential holds,” sequestered rooms where the president can relax and where secure phones for classified conversations are stationed. I assumed that the president would find his way to the hold, located in the clubhouse, and confidentially communicate his decision.”

”Not fifteen minutes later, Berger called me again. This time he was irate – at me, not the president. “Where is the president? What is he doing? Can I talk to him?”

“Sir, he is watching the golf tournament with several friends. I’ve approached him twice with you request. I’ve communicated your concerns about the window of opportunity and about the pilots being prepared and ready to go. I’m an Air Force pilot myself, sir. I understand the ramifications. I’ll try again.”

“As I approached the president for the third time in less than an hour, I thought about the hundreds, if not thousands, of people who must have put considerable time and focused effort into this attack plan and were now hanging on the president’s decision. I didn’t know the details of the operation, but I didn’t have to. I knew that we had our military force primed to strike, potentially taking lives, or having their own lives taken. It all came down to a simple yes or no that was being solicited in the midst of a golf tournament.”

“I made my way thorough the crowded VIP tent. The president spotted me, headed me off at the pass, and spoke first. “Tell Berger that I’ll give him a call on my way back to the White House,” he said coolly, indifferently. “That’s all.” And he dismissed me.”

“All right, I thought. He’d call from his limousine as we motored back to D.C. The limo was equipped, like his hold room, with secure telephones.”

“I called Mr. Berger and explained that the president would contact him from the limo. Berger sounded defatted and sighed. “Okay”, he said. We both knew what that meant. We’d missed our opportunity.”

“In the Persian Gulf the sun was coming up. Without word from the president, jet engines would shut down, the pilots would climb out of cockpits and return to their squadrons or beds. Maintenance crew chiefs would put down their headsets and prepare their fighters and bombers for another day. Commanders, war planners, targeting experts, and controllers would push back from their computers, put the phones down, and have a final cup of coffee before heading home.”

“The president smiled as he signed autographs, shook hands, and waved at the crowd. He climbed into his limo while the staff and Secret Service scrambled into the support vehicles. We made the rainy drive back to the White House.”

“What haunted me more that anything else was that the president refused to make a decision. Human lives were at stake – the lives of American service members and the lives of our allies who opposed Saddam at our behest were now under attack. At a time when America’s honor and grander principles were being challenged and the world was watching our every move . . . the president was watching golf.” END QUOTE

And this is the man who is the champion of the Democratic election strategy, this is the man that Hillary is so sure would have acted given the chance. History tells us differently, history tells us the truth.

MindMechanic said...

Rumpole,

No worries...I appreciate the perspective. I am not really trying to change your mind and on this subject...its pretty much irrelevant...its just how each of us views history. My vision differs from yours...thats not a big deal.

As to his intent...I think thats precisely the problem with judging history (as I transition now to "change your mind mode..."). I dont know Jeffersons intent. I dont know if he was more interested in successfully maintaining the status quo or looking for a way to successfully alter the status quo without damaging the emerging country. I think the relatively short period from formation of the country to abolishment of slavery is historically a positive thing. At the same time, the way that it was done has had repercussions that have lasted the country's existence.

But I dont know his intent.

I DO agree completely with the study of 'why'. Answering why leads to understanding. On that we completely agree.

MindMechanic said...

"I listen with mounting disgust to the lies of Bill and now Hillary Clinton, as they try to spin Bill’s failure to fight terror into a phantasmal of a courageous and successful presidency."

Lysis...

I dont know if its disugust or wondered amazement. There is the word chutzpah...but I think this goes beyond even that.

It is almost as if many of the current politicians have just simply ignored the fact that we have documents, records, transcripts, video,...all manner of historical documentation that PROVES their words to be lies. Yet they look right in the camera and just say it...and dont bat an eyelash.

Bills words mean nothing...except to those that worship him as the God of the Liberal movement.

Bill Clinton has been caught in countless lies. OBVIOUS lies. Yet, as the God of Liberals, whatever he says they just gaze at him with their adoring glassed over stares and nod in agreement.

Sandy Berger gets caught with his pants down...literally stuffing top secret classified documents into his shorts and socks...then expects us to give some sort of credence to his words. And of course...as the Gods minion, he is believed.

Just last year when the Abramoff scandal broke (scandal...like its a shocking revelation that lobbyists bribe congressmen...) a list was published that showed campaign and other contributions from Abramoff to every congressman. On that list was democrats and republicans alike. It was printed not from anyones memory but from the congress's own records of disclosures. Yet...

Howard Dean stood on the Sunday morning news programs and stated LOUDLy...NO democrat ever took so much as a DIME from Jack Abramoff.

Maybe it was classic Clintonspeak. No...not a dime. $870,000.00, but not a single dime.

Chutzpah...whats a good word for a really really really really LOT of chutzpah?

MindMechanic said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
MindMechanic said...

One last comment on your most complete expose, Lysis...

Clinton said during this last interview about how he WANTED to do things, how he WISHED he could do things, and how he COULDNT get his security agencies to agree.

IF...ok...lets stretch the boundaries of credibility and add for the possibility that IF he is speaking the truth, that doesnt justify him, it damns him. THIS speaks volumes as to the difference between a president that uses the oral office as a place to meet dates, and a man that treats the Presidency as the most powerful position in the world. Clinton says he WANTED to, Bush DID.

Leadership.

Dont tell me what you 'could' have done.

Lysis said...

Mindmechanic:

I don’t know when I’ve seen chutzpah so well defined contextually. Your descriptions of the known behavior of “slick Willey”; were historic. Thanks for the info and the education. Now I’ll give you other words. I saw George Bush at his press conference Tuesday – when asked to deal with Bill’s lie about the Clinton record and about the actions of the Bush administration – the President replied he did not want to get into name calling, he wanted to get about the business of defending American. That’s the definition of integrity, that’s the meaning of class. So we have the battle lines of the election of 2006 drawn by the respective leaders of either party; slick chutzpah v. classy integrity. Which will America choose? – It should make for a good history lesson some day.

Moon Knight said...

Why does History have such a impact in our lives? I over heard today that without war, there cannot be progress. Now This is intersesting to me, I believe this to be true. Look how far we have come form the progression of war, We have America, we have Allies, we have something we would like to call the U.N, now where did all these come from??? WAR! here is a quote from a song that I like but cannot decide whether or not to choose the good or the bad from.

"War..Hunh! What is it good for? Absoultly Nothing!" I am not sure that is really true, War can be good or bad but I try to see the positive side of it. As should the rest of America

Lysis said...

Moon Knight:

Like many things, we must consider the motivation behind any war. We must ask, why are we at war? In self defense, in defense of the innocent? The U.S. is not at war for oil, for power, or for politics. We fight for the freedom of the peoples of the earth and to turn back the slavery of mind and body promised by our enemies should they achieve the victory in this war. “Then conquer we must [not just inevitably, but as our surest obligation] for our cause it is Just.” The material THINGS that come out of war, even the material progress that it spawns, are not worth the cost. It freedom that is the value that makes the suffering worth the terrible price.

Moon Knight said...

Lysis:

What is the motivation for the war then Iraq then? Why are we at war for the 2nd time in our lives for something we are fighting for again?

Lysis said...

Moon Knight:

Last year I posted this parsing of President Bush's speech in which he layed out the reasons for the war in Iraq, and agaisnt terror. I have copied it here. Plese read it or at least go throught the 31 reasons the President gave. Pay close attention to reasons #8 to 11, and 15, 20 to 25, and 31.

On Thursday, October 6th, 2005 President Bush delivered the speech we have all been waiting for. I have it before me and have listened to all forty minuets of it five times. I didn't play it for my Art History Class – but all the rest of my classes got it beginning to end – then commentary.
Here are some highlights. I have divided the speech with my own headings, but the numbered quotes are the President’s words.

Since the founding of The National Endowment for Democracy by President Reagan American sacrifice has spread freedom and peace to much of the world.

1. ". . . all the cost and sacrifice of that struggle has been worth it, because, from Latin America to Europe to Asia, we've gained the peace that freedom brings."

The world now faces a new world wide enemy set on destroying peace and freedom – and we must sacrifice again.

2. ". . . freedom is once again assaulted by enemies determined to roll back generations of democratic progress. Once again, we're responding to a global campaign of fear with a global campaign of freedom."

3. "Recently our country observed the fourth anniversary of a great evil, and looked back on a turning point in our history. We still remember a proud city covered in smoke and ashes, a fire across the Potomac, and passengers who spent their final moments on Earth fighting the enemy. We still remember the men who rejoiced in every death and Americans in uniform rising to duty. . . We will confront this mortal danger to all humanity. We will not tire, or rest, until the war on terror is won."

President Bush then listed many other places were terrorists have attacked and the innocent nature of their victims. This is a world wide war, a real war against a real and determined enemy. The President described this enemy which he calls ISLAMIC RADICALISM.

4. 'Yet while the killers choose their victims indiscriminately, their attacks serve a clear and focused ideology, a set of beliefs and goals that are evil, but not insane."

5. "This form of radicalism exploits Islam to serve a violent, political vision; the establishment, by terrorism and subversion and insurgency, of a totalitarian empire that denies all political and religious freedom."

6. "Many . . . are part of global, borderless terrorist organizations like al Qaeda . . . Other militants are found in regional groups, often associated with al Qaeda . . . insurgencies and separatist movements . . . Still others spring up in local cells, inspired by Islamic radicalism. . . Yet . . . [all] . . . share a similar ideology and vision for our world."

President Bush then presents that ideology and vision.

7. "We know the vision of the radicals because they've openly stated it. . . First . . . to end American and Western influence in the broader Middle East, because we stand for democracy and peace, and stand in the way of their ambitions. . . . Osama bin Laden, has called on Muslims to dedicate, quote, their "resources, sons and money to driving the infidels out of their lands." . . . They hit us and expect us to run. They want us to repeat the sad history of Beirut in 1983, and Mogadishu in 1993 – only this time on a larger scale, with greater consequences."

8. "Second, the militant network wants to use the vacuum created by an American retreat to gain control of a country, a base from which to launch attacks and conduct their war against non-radical Muslim governments. . . . They achieved their goal, for a time, in Afghanistan. Now they've set their sights on Iraq. . . . The terrorists regard Iraq as the central front in their war against humanity. And we must recognize Iraq as the central front in our war on terror."

9. Third, the militants believe that controlling one country will rally the Muslim masses, enabling them to overthrow all moderate governments in the region and establish a radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia. With greater economic and military and political power, the terrorists would be able to advance their stated agenda; to [1] develop weapons of mass destruction, [2] to destroy Israel, [3] to intimidate Europe, [4] to assault the American people, [5] and to blackmail our government into isolation."

10. ". . . Zarquwi has vowed. "We will either achieve victory over the human race or we will pass to the eternal life."

The past teaches the clear lesson of why we must fight:

11. ". . . the civilized world knows very well that other fanatics in history, from Hitler to Stalin to Pol Pot, consumed whole nations in war and genocide . . . Evil men, obsessed with ambition and unburdened by conscience, must be taken very seriously – and we must stop them before their crimes can multiply."

President Bush then goes on to explain how the radicals plan to and can grow in power.

12. ". . . it thrives, like a parasite, on the suffering and frustration of others. The radicals exploit local conflict to build a culture of victimization, in which someone else is always to blame and violence is always the solution. They exploit resentful and disillusioned young men and women, recruiting them through radical mosques as pawns of terror. . . . Islamic Radicalism is also magnified by helpers and enablers. They have been sheltered by authoritarian regimes, allies of convenience like Syria and Iran. That share the goal of hurting American and moderate Muslim governments, and use terrorist propaganda to blame their own failures on the West and American and on the Jews. These radicals depend on front operations, such as corrupted charities, which direct money to terrorist activity.
They're strengthened by those who . . . fund the spread of radical, intolerant . . . Islam . . . aided . . . by elements of the Arab news media that incite hatred and anti-Semitism, that feed conspiracy theories and speak of a so-called American "war on Islam"."

President Bush then deals decisively and brilliantly with those in the blame America crowd, showing the folly of appeasement.

13. "Some have also argued that extremism has been strengthened by the
actions of our coalition in Iraq. . . . I would remind them that we
were not in Iraq on September the 11th, 2001 – and al Qaeda attacked us anyway. The hatred of the radicals existed before Iraq was an issue, and it will exist after Iraq is no longer an excuse. . . .
Over the years these extremists have used a litany of excuses for violence – the Israeli presence on the West Bank, or the U. S.
military presence in Saudi Arabia, or the defeat of the Taliban, or the Crusades of a thousand years ago. In fact, we're not facing a set of grievances that can be soothed and addressed. We're facing a radical ideology with inalterable objectives; to enslave whole nations and intimidate the world. No act of ours invited the rage of the killers – and no concession, bribe, or act of appeasement would change or limit their plans for murder.

14. "They target nations whose behavior they believe they can change through violence. Against such an enemy, there is only one effective
response: We will never back down, never give in, and never accept anything less than complete victory."

President Bush then aptly applies the lessons of History to the War on Terror. The perilous battle we must now win is eerie in its resemblance to the fight against the monster murder mania that was world wide communism.

15. "Like the ideology of communism, Islamic radicalism:

a) . . . is elitist, led by a self-appointed vanguard that presumes to speak for the Muslim masses. Bin Laden says his own role is to tell Muslims, quote, "what is good for them and what is not."

b) "Like . . . communism, our new enemy teaches that innocent individuals can be sacrificed to serve a political vision. And this explains their cold-blooded contempt for human life."

c) ". . . in spite of this veneer of religious rhetoric, most of the victims claimed by the militants are fellow Muslims. When 25 Iraqi children are killed in a bombing, or Iraqi teachers are executed at their school, or hospital workers are killed caring for the wounded, this is murder pure and simple – the total rejection of justice and honor and morality and religion. These militants are not just the enemies of America, or the enemies of Iraq, they are the enemies of Islam and the enemies of humanity. We have seen this kind of shameless cruelty before, in the heartless zealotry that led to the gulags, and the Cultural Revolution, and the killing fields."

d) ". . . our new enemy pursues totalitarian aims. Its leaders pretend to be an aggrieved party, representing the powerless against imperial enemies. In truth they have endless ambitions of imperial domination . . ."

e) "Under their rule, they have banned books, and desecrated historical monuments, and brutalized women. They seek to end dissent in every form, and to control every aspect of life, and to rule the soul, itself. While promising a future of justice and holiness, they terrorists are preparing for a future of oppression and misery."

f) our new enemy is dismissive of free peoples, claiming that men and women who live in liberty are weak and decadent. . . . But let us be
clear: It is cowardice that seeks to kill children and d the elderly with car bombs, and cuts the throat of a bound captive, and targets worshipers leaving a mosque. It is courage that liberated more that 50 million people. It is courage that keeps an untiring vigil against the enemies of a rising democracy. And it is courage in the cause of freedom that one again will destroy the enemies of freedom."

g) . . . like the ideology of communism, contains inherent contradictions that doom it to failure. By fearing freedom – by distrusting human creativity, and punishing change, and limiting the contributions of half the population - - this ideology undermines the very qualities that make human progress possible and human societies successful."

h) Those who despise freedom and progress have condemned themselves to isolation, decline, and collapse. Because free people believe in the future, free peoples will own the future."

President Bush then sets out three goals and describes five strategies that we are now and must continue to use in the fight against Islamic radicalism.

16. "Defeating a broad and adaptive network requires patience, constant pressure, and strong partners in Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia and beyond.

17. "First . . . prevent the attacks of terrorist networks before they occur. . . . Together, we've killed or captured nearly all of those directly responsible for the September the 11th attacks; . . . the United states and our partners have disrupted at least ten serious al Qaeda terrorist plots since September the 11th, including three al Qaeda plots to attack inside the United States. We've stopped at least five more al Qaeda efforts to case targets in the United States, or infiltrate operatives into our country."

18. "Second, we're determined to deny weapons of mass destruction to outlaw regimes, and to their terrorist alls who would use them without hesitation."

19. "Third, we're determined to deny radical groups the support and sanctuary of outlaw regimes. . . The united States makes no distinction between those who commit acts of terror and those who support and harbor them, because they're equally as guilty of murder."

20. "Forth, we're determined to deny the militants control of any nation . . . and so we will defeat the enemy in Iraq."

President Bush then contrasts the efforts of our troops and our allies with those consumed by pessimism.

21. "Our coalition, along with our Iraqi allies, is moving forward with a comprehensive, specific military plan. [1] Area by area, city by city, we're conducting offensive operations to clear out the enemy forces, [2] and leaving behind Iraqi units to prevent the enemy for returning. . . . [3] we're working for tangible improvements in the lives of Iraqi citizens. [4] And we're aiding the rise of an elected government that unites the Iraqi people against extremism and violence."

22. "Some observers look at the job ahead and adopt a self-defeating pessimism. It is not justified. With every random bombing and with every funeral of a child, it becomes more clear that the extremists are not patriots, or resistance fighters – they are murderers at war with the Iraqi people . . ."

23 ". . . elected leaders of Iraq are proving to be strong and steadfast. By any standard or precedent of history, Iraq has made incredible political progress – from tyranny, to liberation, to national elections, to the writing of a constitution, in the space of two-and-a-half years. . . . the Iraqi military is gaining new capabilities and new confidence with every passing month. . . . no fair minded person should ignore, deny, or dismiss the achievements of the Iraqi people.”

President Bush then goes on to challenge those who doubt the commitment to democracy and freedom of Iraq and its people.

24. “We’ve heard it suggested that Iraq’s democracy must be on shaky ground because Iraqis are arguing with each other. But that’s the essence of democracy. . . “

25. “As Americans, we believe that people -- everywhere – prefer freedom to slavery, and that liberty, once chosen, improves the lives of all.”

President Bush next deals with those who would cut and run!

26. Some observers also claim that America would be better off by cutting our losses and leaving Iraq now. This is a dangerous illusion, refuted with a simple question: Would the Untied Stats and other free nations be more safe, or less safe, with Zarquwi and bin Laden [or Saddam] in control of Iraq, its people and its resources?

27. “There’s always a temptation, in the middle of a long struggle, to seek the quiet life, to escape the duties and problems of the word, and to hope the enemy grows weary of fanaticism and tired of murder. This would be a pleasant world, but it’s not the world we live in. The enemy is never tired, never sated, never content with yesterday’s brutality. This enemy considers every retreat of the civilized world as an invitation to greater violence. In Iraq, there is no peace without victory. We will keep our verve and we will win that victory.

President Bush next describes how free people can deny the militants future recruits; gain the support of the Muslim world. He give evidence that this process is in progress.

28. “The fifth element of our strategy . . . is to deny the militants future recruits by replacing hatred and resentment with democracy and hope across the broader Middle East. . . . If the peoples of that region are permitted to choose their own destiny, and advance by their own energy and by their participation as free men and women, then the extremists will be marginalized . . .”

29. “Many Muslim scholars have already publicly condemned terrorism, often citing Chapter 5, Verse 32 of the Koran, which states that killing an innocent human being is like killing all humanity, and saving the life of one person is like saving all of humanity. After the attacks in London . . . an imam in the United Arab Emirates declared, “Whoever does such a thing is not a Muslim . . .”

30. Many people of the Muslim faith are proving their commitment at great personal risk. . . . Afghan troops are in combat against Taliban remnants. Iraqi soldiers are sacrificing to defeat al Qaeda . . . “

President Bush unites the War on Terror with the “ancient” struggle.

31. “. . . the fight we have joined is also the current expression of an ancient struggle between those who put their faith in dictators, and those who put their faith is the people. Throughout history, tyrants and would-be tyrants have always claimed that murder is justified to serve their grand vision – and they end up alienating decent people across the globe. Tyrants . . . have always claimed that regimented societies are strong and pure – until those societies collapse in corruption and decay. Tyrants . . . have always claimed that free men and women are weak and decadent – until the day that free men and women defeat them.

**** Well I hope you have read and considered the President’s words. I am eager to add commentary in any discussion on the justice of the war or the importance of the President’s words.

MindMechanic said...

Moon Knight...

Welcome! I hope you frequently lend your insight into the discussion here.

You asked why we fought the war(s) against Iraq. Two different reasons.

1st Gulf War-Iraq attacked a sovereign nation and occupied it. Iraq's soldiers commited horrible attoricites against the Kuwaitis. I have stood in a market square near Kuwait City where families were rounded up and soldiers performed despicable acts on the children and then executed the children all the while forcing the parents to watch at gunpoint. Most of the parents followed their children in death. THIS was the character of our enemy in the first gulf war.

It wasnt JUST about Kuwait. Saddam had a stated goal of controling the middle east, and some have referenced his desire to establish acaliphate with him at the head controlling all of the middle east.

Additionally, Iraqs southern neighbors saudi Arabia were threatened.

And hey...lets be honest...the worlds oil supply was at risk which also equates to the global economy being at risk.

We had 1 mandate in GW1...force Iraq out of Kuwait. Lots of people say we should have taken him out. We couldnt have. Lots of reasons there.

Gulf War 2-Simple...
1-Iraq refused to comply with 17 seperate UN resolutions mandating full disclosure of their WMD program
2-Iraq sponsored global terrorism
3-Saddam Hussein and his government executed (genocide) anywhere from 1.2 to 2.5 million Iraqis.

There where many others but those are the main reasons as cited by George Bush.

Now...today...

Global WAR on Terror-We are not AT WAR with Iraq. That war ended in 2003. Today we battle terrorists that kill to destroy possibilities of a free people for a democratic government. We fight terrorists that kill for the sake of killing-religous zealots who will NOT stop until their version of nirvana is achieved which is, death to all non-muslims.

Seems like a good reason to be at war.

Strategos said...

Lysis

Sure history is great, like I said, if it can be applied to today. To many I fear try to over apply history. To follow your example imagines calling a witness from a murder case in 1990 to testify in a similar case in 2000. Similarly people claim the war in Iraq is bad look what happened in Vietnam. Whether or not Bill Clinton is a liar or who is to blame for Osama still being alive has no bearing on whether or not a new republican White house is telling the truth and pursuing Osama effectively. That Brigham Young may have covered up a massacre "will never know," in order to save his people from extermination orders, has nothing to do with Gordon B. Hinckley’s international education program. The fact that communism failed in the Soviet Union does not mean Capitalism has improved the lives of people in East Germany or sub-Saharan Africa. Too many people live in the past and become blind to the present.

On a side not my Developing Societies professor, a liberal semi-marxist said the best leadership we could hope for would be for George H. W. Bush to run again in with George W. or even Laura as his running mate.

Lysis said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lysis said...

Strategos:

I don’t quite understand you problem with a witness testifying in both 1990 and 2000. If he knows the truth of what happened in both cases, if he has some evidence of value the fact that he has testified before should not matter. If what you meant to say is - called to testify ten years after the murder occurred – there is no statute of limitation on murder – and the truth needs to be told however belatedly. Still, the judge and jury will take into account the time laps and consider it when passing judgment.

As for Bill Clinton’s actions having no bearing on whether President Bush is doing his job or not – I agree entirely and am glad that the President continues to protect America and hunt its enemies despite the spoiled rantings of the ex-president.

The evidence of Brigham Young’s cover up of Mountain Meadows is obvious. He either didn’t investigate of he didn’t tell the truth. Those are the only possibilities and both lead to the same conclusion, Brigham Young covered up the massacre. It truly has no bearing on Hinckley’s education program; it might call into question the “truthfulness” of Hinckley’s Church.

Capitalism has greatly improved the lives of East Germans – and almost all other people who have escaped Communism. As for sub-Saharan Africa, Capitalism is their only hope. One cannot live in the past. If one is blind to the past they cannot understand their present.

On a side note, I agree with you Developing Societies professor, and I would love to vote for either George the first or Laura Bush. I’m hoping we’ll get Jeb in 2012.

Rumpole said...

Truth to Power,

As to understanding history in its time, verses right and wrong, you post: “Yes, the American Revolution was a matter of radical change, but it had widespread popular support in the Colonies. The same could not be said for abolition in Jefferson's time. The founding fathers were not only leaders; they were representatives. And the American people weren't ready to free the slaves.”

Are we then to believe that it is an elected leader’s responsibility to do only the will of the people? When it was suggested (with popular support) that George Washington should be made King rather than run for President, should he have been crowned?

Should President Bush have pulled out of Iraq when his popularity numbers plummeted suggesting there was no popular support for the war? Was it wise for Clinton to “reap” his “peace dividend” by cutting defense and redirecting money to social spending under the guise of a balanced budget because it seemed he had popular support?

I would suggest that the most successful politicians of our day have done the right thing rather than the popular thing.

Lysis,

You post: “I note that, while Jefferson was “dead on” as far as the evils of Slavery he had no understanding as regards the equality of races.”

The quote from Jefferson points out that very fact. I think of Jefferson as one of the greatest minds and one of the most important of our forefathers. As you have pointed out, however, that doesn’t mean that he was always right.

Strategos,

Your previous post is troubling to me. Please correct me if I am wrong, but it seems to imply the desire for instant gratification. Decisions take time to unfold. Further, they are quite often linked to later events.

For example, time will tell if the lies Bill Clinton told will allow the White House to pursue Osama effectively. Do you suggest President Bush ignore Clinton’s mistakes in his pursuit of Osama?

Do you suggest that there is no connection between a failed Soviet Union and a “unified” Germany? Can you see into the future to know if lives in Germany will improve with capitalism? Even if the lives of Germans are not currently economically better, can you put a price tag on freedom?

Through the looking glass of history I can answer. Were President Bush to ignore what Clinton did would he would be foolish (i.e. Clinton and the first attempt at the WTC. Clinton turned a blind eye, you know the result.). If Germany stays the course, the lives of Germans will be better. (i.e. Japan after WWII).

You've seen the credit card commercials that define "priceless."

Freedom is priceless.


The most difficult problems take the most time to resolve.

Strategos said...

Let me explain my example
a witness sees a murder in 1990 and testifies at the trial ten years later a seperate but similar murder occurs and they call the same witness. Since the murders were similar why not apply the same witness.
We can't assume that the past will repeat it's self. No two murders are the same each must be delt with on it's own merrit.
Simmilarly judging validity of wars based on past wars doesn't make sense to me. Iraq is not vietnam, nor is it Japan. Brigham Young is not the church and the Validity of anyone's version of "The mountain medows massacre" has nothing to do with the validity of the Church.
Maybe Brigham Young's mistake was making descisions about the present based on the past. Maybe he covered up the massacre because history told him that if the story came out thousands of inocent Saints would be killed.
Many had already been exterminated for less.

Maybe Brigham Young relized that punishing men in this life (insignificant to any punishment the guilty would face in the next) was not worth the lives of the peaceful and innocent saints who were threatened by a hostile army on their doorstep.

My point is there are entirely to many maybe's

Today I can know the Church is true without looking at anyone's version of the past.

Whether religion or poilitics people ignore what is right infront of them visible and actual because what they are seeing is not in accordance with the past. People actually refuse to admit that capitalism is failing in Africa and Many countries in Asia because it worked in Japan and South Korea.

Should procicuters convict an obviously inocent man because similar men have been found guilty in similar situations.

Those who ignore the past are doomed to repeat it? I say those who ignore the presant are doomed to look stupid when the past dosen't repeat it's self.

Strategos said...

Two frogs were hopping along one day when by accident they hopped into a bucket filled with cream. When they discovered that they couldn’t hop out one frog gave up and sank to the bottom, the other frog however was a fighter. He just kept swimming and swimming until finally he churned the cream into butter and was able to hop out.

Well a few days later this same frog was hopping along with a new friend when what do you know they fell in another bucket. Luckily this time there was a large stick standing up in the bucket and the frogs could easily climb out, but when one frog was just about out of the bucket he looked back and saw his friend swimming around and around in circles as fast as he could. “Hey” he called down, “Just climb out it’s easy,”

“Oh shut up” replied the other frog, “I know what I’m doing, this has happened to me before.” So the frog left his friend swimming in the bucket. After a while the swimming frog got tired sunk to the bottom and drown. Because you see this time he had jumped into a bucket of water.

Lysis said...

While the particulars of any murder, (war, natural disaster, class lecture, campfire program, hike to Union Falls) may be different; the general conditions particular to them are often the same. Would you have us invent the justice system anew for each crime, compose new songs for every program, strike out into the wilderness without a trail or a compass or a map? No, history informs every action, and one bit of knowledge it imparts is not to slavishly repeat it.

As for your rationalizations for the murders at Mountain Meadows, since Young did cover up, we will never know how the people of the United States would have reacted to the prompt and just punishment of mass murderers, nor will we ever know how God might have preserved his chosen people without lies and injustice. But what today’s
Mormon Church must deal with is not just the uncomfortable reality that their religion can be misinterpreted and miss applied by fanatics, but that their leadership chose to hide the facts and protect the killers. Perhaps Brigham Young made a Faustian bargain which is now, with the slow revelation of the truth, threatening the very foundations of the Church he sought to protect.

Our founding fathers made a similar deal with the devil when they chose to postpone dealing with slavery. The founders know slavery was evil, yet they institutionalized it to allow the Union to survive. Perhaps it is history that will provide the Church its example. But there is a difference between the nation and “the” Church – and that is the claim of divine direction and assertion of divine preservation. America was admittedly founded by men, doing the best they could in very bad circumstances; they might be forgiven compromising the right, but can we make the same allowance for God’s own kingdom, for God Himself?

America paid the price to redeem its soul, what cost the Devil demand to redeem Christ’s Church?

As for your drowning frogs – too bad they didn’t learn to stay out of buckets!

MindMechanic said...

While stationed in England I was sent to Turkey for one of my many deployments. Our theatre of ops was Northern Iraq. I spent 4 months there during which time my temple recommend expired.

My wife and I had this plan to leave on vacation and travel to Scotland, Ireland, down the west coast of England, ferry into France, the whole European vacation thing. Then we got word of a horrible accident back home and we had to go back to the states immediately.

We had 2 days to plan and execute the trip and one of the steps was to renew our temple recommend. Even though the London Temple had been undergoing renovations and had been closed the whole time we were there (to that point-it later reopened and were able to attend its dedication), we had kept our recommends current. They would have been current had I not been deployed.

I called our area president and asked to arrange for a short notice recommend interview. Now...keep in mind that there was always a fair amount of tension between the British saints and American saints...we just did things just a little bit different. There were just the slightest of digs...things like sorry...the women in YOUR ward cant be bothered to attend the area womens conference so we wont allow you to have access to the video copy of it. Really...stuff like that happened.

I politely made my request of this man that had been called of God as a leader of the saints. His response...Tough. You Americans think we should just jump through the hoops whenever it is convenient for you. You didnt bother to keep your temple recommend current but NOW you want me to go out of my way because you are going back to America. No.

Hmmmmm...

I was...taken aback...no...really...I was actually blisteringly angry. But I calmly explained to him the whole story, that in fact we had kept our recommend current prior to this, that he should remember...he signed them...that had I not been separated from my family for 4 months serving others that the recommends would have been current...that this wasnt exactly a matter of convenience...that people had died and others where in the hospital with severe injury.

After my diatribe there was silence and I could tell there was crying on the other end of the line. He begged...literally begged my forgiveness and offered to meet with us right away...and that he would make the trip to see us.

OK...long story..sorry.

Point. I know people that have left the church for less. I have had negative experiences with bishops that could have severely damaged my faith. IF my faith was placed in men. It is not. Even heavenly called servants of God given the keys and authorities of the priesthood are fallible.

The Mountain Meadows Massacre and the different responses to it are events. The individuals will be judged of God.

I love football. I played it for several years and love watching.
Cool thing about arm chair quarterbacking...you have access to every aspect of the game and plays after the fact. Its easy to be critical of the players with the aid of instant replay, the separation of distance and time, etc. Slow motion is a GREAT addition to the game...but not something the players get to enjoy. Its worlds different when the ball has been snapped and the opposing linemen and linebackers are bearing down on you. Sometimes bad throws are made. Sometimes the ball is dropped. Bad decisions are made.

The true test of the quarterback is not the judgement of out of shape, overweight, beer drinking, popcorn munchers sitting at home. It is found in the faith of the coaches to keep the QB in the game, of the teammates in the character and overall decision making of the QB, and in the QBs willingness to learn from his own mistakes and make a better effort the next play.

BTW...I love the frog analogy. It has been used in extemp and impromptu speaking competitions for decades.

Lysis said...

Some thoughts on “Violent Religion” and Slavery from Lee Harris’ article in “the Weekly Standard”: (Again I owe my Lawyer!!!)

On God’s attitude toward violence in religion:

“For Socrates, it was obvious that good was not whatever God capriciously chose to do; the good was what God was compelled by his very nature to do. Socrates would have agreed with the Byzantine emperor when he said, “God is not please by blood, and not acting reasonably is contrary to God’s nature.”

“The Emperor Manuel II Paleologus pondered this question in his debate with the learned Persian. How can a god who commands conversion by the sword be the same god as the emperor’s god – a god who wished to gain converts only through the use of words and reason? If Allah is happy to accept converts who are trembling in fear for their lives, with a sword hovering over their necks, then he may well be a god worth fearing, but not a god worth revering. He may represent an imaginary construction of god suitable to slaves, but he will not be an image of god worthy of being worshiped by a Socrates – or by any reasonable man.”

Socrates (2500 years ago) on Slavery:

“Socrates had come across Phaedo one day in the marketplace of Athens, where he was up for sale as a slave. Distraught at knowing what lay ahead for the handsome and intelligent boy, Socrates ran to all his wealthy friends and collected enough money to buy the boy, then immediately gave him his freedom. Socrates’ liberation of Phaedo was a symbol of Socrates’ earthly mission.”

“Socrates hated the very thought of slavery – slavery to other men, slavery to mere opinions, slavery to fear, slavery to our own low desires, slavery to our own high ambitions. He believed that reason could liberate human beings from these various forms of slavery. Socrates would have protested against the very thought of a God who was delighted by force conversions or who was pleased when his worshipers proudly boasted that they were his slaves.”

Lysis said...

Mindmechanic:

I enjoyed the long story – but I will glean a different moral. When your Area president sinned in the miss use of his priesthood authority and was convinced by REASON of his wrong, he repented and did the right thing. What would have been your reaction to him had he continued to refuse to do his duty and blamed you for attacking his authority? The lesson I see taught by this chastened church leader is that when reason revels the truth one must act in accordance.

Your implication that Brigham Young could error and still have been God’s chosen leader is well supported by Biblical examples. Moses was a murderer, so was Paul. Jonah flatly disobeyed God’s command to go to Nineveh. (Perhaps God should have sent a whale to Cedar City; George Smith didn’t seem to do much.) My faith does not depend on the perfection of Brigham Young. My point is simply that evil deeds have their consequences. The “chickens” of Mountain Meadows are now coming home to roost. If the Church admits to Young’s fallibility in this – what is next? Perhaps the lesson of history would be to do the right thing no matter how difficult and, taking the responsibility up front, one may well avoid greater difficulty down the road. Isn’t it reasonable to think a Prophet would know these things?

I would argue that God should be a better than average coach and His Prophet an exceptional quarterback. Foreknowledge should lead to some pretty consistent passing and runs. It seems to me Brigham Young’s “mistake” cost some people more than a game. To bad he did not have the experience of your chastened Area President to instruct him, since God seemes to have been off the field.

Strategos said...

“You were not there you cannot understand the circumstances.”

Horatio Hornblower

Again you misunderstand me I believe we can learn principles from the past and that those principles can be applied to understanding the present. The mistake people make is that they impose the past on the present. People trust their maps and ignore the trails, and to many times people use a map of Yellowstone to try to find their way in through the Teton.

As to Brigham Young, like I said there are ways to test the validity of the Church today first hand. Then we can use those observable, concrete, first hand observations, to make assumptions about the past.

Using skewed half reported stories about a time and place we can hardly comprehend, and blinding ourselves to the present, is like a hiker walking off a cliff determined that there is no danger because the tattered, pieced together map of a different time and place, shows no cliff.

According to historical accounts Brigham Young also preformed miracles and spoke with God. I guess you can pass those off as just rumored stories passed on by the politically motivated.

Choose the historical versions you want and impose them on any situation you want. I want a four-mile hike to a waterfall so I’ll draw a map of one and wander off into the forest.

Lysis said...

Strategos:

If you choose to act UNREASONABLY by ignoring the cliff and follow a faulty map you are the fool and are blaming your failure on a misusing history. History can instruct those who seek knowledge in it and learn to reason with it. Those foolish enough to act without reason cannot blame history; their stupidity is at fault.

The brethren in Cedar City choose to dive off a cliff; Brigham Young hid their mistake to benefit his agenda. As to Young’s Miracles and revelations: I can believe them, but where were the miracles to save the emigrants from murder? Where was the revelation to lead Brigham Young to the truth? Aren’t these fair questions to ask a Church which claims to have always – not just recently – been lead by revolation?

truth to power said...

Lysis, you said, "The “chickens” of Mountain Meadows are now coming home to roost. If the Church admits to Young’s fallibility in this – what is next?"

What do *you* think is next?

As far as I know, there is no Mormon doctrine of "prophetic infallibility". Do you believe the sins and errors of this one man will destroy your faith? Why Brigham Young and nobody else? Why now?

MindMechanic said...

"What would have been your reaction to him had he continued to refuse to do his duty and blamed you for attacking his authority?"

Lysis...

I HOPE my response would be similar to the actions of a recent former bishop that nearly drove my youngest son (or rather gave him the opportunity to choose to be driven) from the church...that is to express love and support of my son while supporting the bishop as bishop. I say HOPE because I just dont know and no amount of hindsight or reflection can tell me what my actual response would have been. It COULD have been ugly.
Your point is well taken.

I DO imagine that the damage would have been substantially more to my wife than to me.

MindMechanic said...

"His Prophet an exceptional quarterback"

Where were the Ty Detmers and Jim McMahons when Brigham Young REALLY needed them!

;-)

MindMechanic said...

this is JUST my personal position...

My foundation of faith rests on three questions.

1-Do I believe in God and accept the divinity of Christ?
2-Do I believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God?
3-Is the Book of Mormon true?

Thats it. There are MANY questions beyond that but they are just questions; things are just things. Humans are fallible and imperfect. It is both the blessing and curse of agency.

Strategos said...

No Lysis you step off the cliff if you ignore the facts in front of you, the trail, question the churches validity based on faulty and incomplete history the map.

"I know there's a cliff here but the map says their's not, so here I go."

"I know that Brigham Young was a prophet but history says he's liar and a murder, so here I go."

Strategos said...

Lysis

The brothern in Cedar city drove off a cliff when they ignored what they saw and trusted in Historical evidence. Historically non-mormon settlers where a threat.

I think if I here you call agenda one more time I will leave the agora forever. Everyone who doesn't agree with you has an agenda, it's like calling someone fattso. It has no real meaning.

MindMechanic said...

"If the Church admits to Young’s fallibility in this – what is next?"

Admit...what? That mistakes were made? I think they could do that and in fact believe they have. Beyond that you ask them to make a declaration only that you believe, not one that is proven.

I remember when the "White Salamander" letter surfaced. It painted Joseph in a most damning light. The church did not buy the letter and bury it. The didnt destroy it. It became open for research and discussion, regardless of the potential that some might leave the church and others might use it against the church. The letter was proved to be a forgery but not before damage was done. I still know non-LDS people that use that letter as an attack against the church.

The point...the church didnt hide from the controversy, even about its very founder. If there are greater truths known about the MMM and Brigham Young's role I believe they will be revealed. But as facts, not as conjecture.

Lysis said...
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Lysis said...

Stratgos:

History can teach many lessons, but it seems the brethren in Cedar city, like the Democrats running for congress choose to pick and choose the lessons they want to follow. If the are so miss-driven as to abandon reason and theology – to ignore the teachings of Jesus to claim inspiration in vengeance, then they have neither studied nor understood history.

Your attempt to blame their lack of reason, conscience, and Christianity on the map of history is as silly a claim as yours that I would follow a false map off a cliff. I have my reason, so did they. They choose to follow their warped conception of the will of God and abandoned reason , informed by history or by Christ.

MindMechanic said...

Done to death...I'd like to take this a different direction.

I wonder...

Do you suppose the "religous zealots" in the torrorism business are true believers in faith and led by a well thought out belief in God or are they pathetic shallow creatures hearing and being inspired by thigns that feed their own angry hatred?

Cameron said...

I have followed this discussion with much interest. It has gotten me thinking.

1 Nephi 4 reports that Nephi killed/murdered Laban. This is an account written by Nephi and then translated by Joseph Smith. It should pass the "translated correctly" test. Nephi tells us that the Spirit directed him to kill the drunk, defenseless Laban because:

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.


MindMechanic, I believe this fits into your question as well.

Cameron said...

Another applicable story from the Book of Mormon is found in Alma 51.

13 And it came to pass that when the men who were called king-men had heard that the Lamanites were coming down to battle against them, they were glad in their hearts; and they refused to take up arms, for they were so wroth with the chief judge, and also with the people of liberty, that they would not take up arms to defend their country.
14 And it came to pass that when Moroni saw this, and also saw that the Lamanites were coming into the borders of the land, he was exceedingly wroth because of the stubbornness of those people whom he had labored with so much diligence to preserve; yea, he was exceedingly wroth; his soul was filled with anger against them.
15 And it came to pass that he sent a petition, with the voice of the people, unto the governor of the land, desiring that he should read it, and give him (Moroni) power to compel those dissenters to defend their country or to put them to death.
16 For it was his first care to put an end to such contentions and dissensions among the people; for behold, this had been hitherto a cause of all their destruction. And it came to pass that it was granted according to the voice of the people.
17 And it came to pass that Moroni commanded that his army should go against those king-men, to pull down their pride and their nobility and level them with the earth, or they should take up arms and support the cause of liberty.
18 And it came to pass that the armies did march forth against them; and they did pull down their pride and their nobility, insomuch that as they did lift their weapons of war to fight against the men of Moroni they were hewn down and leveled to the earth.
19 And it came to pass that there were four thousand of those dissenters who were hewn down by the sword; and those of their leaders who were not slain in battle were taken and cast into prison, for there was no time for their trials at this period.
20 And the remainder of those dissenters, rather than be smitten down to the earth by the sword, yielded to the standard of liberty, and were compelled to hoist the title of liberty upon their towers, and in their cities, and to take up arms in defence of their country.
21 And thus Moroni put an end to those king-men, that there were not any known by the appellation of king-men; and thus he put an end to the stubbornness and the pride of those people who professed the blood of nobility; but they were brought down to humble themselves like unto their brethren, and to fight valiantly for their freedom from bondage.


Alma 48:17 tells us what sort of man Moroni was.

Anonymous said...

Cicero says:

Cameron,

As long as you accept that nephi was inspired...commanded by God to kill Laban, you must catagorically allow for men like Osama and other religious fanatics to claim the same right. When will people see the error of that logic. I have heard it so many times as a justification for action, but am amazed when the same people cry out disbelief that a religious fanatic has blown up a bus or killed a market full of innocent people.When will we as a society stand up and do the right thing. Stop using religion and God to justify our actions. Nephi was as wrong as Osama to kill because God or Allah said too. You need to read Ratziner's speech and apply reason to your analysis. Man, how I would love to hear even once sentence constructed as intellectually as his during this upcoming church conference. I might want to listen then!

truth to power said...

If someone kills, he must answer to the laws of men. "God told me to do it" has never been accepted as a defense, whether He did or not. This is as it should be.

MindMechanic said...

Cameron...

I might agree with your parallel arguement if I accepted that the muslim terrorists were sincere in their 'beliefs.' I personally believe they use the cover of Allah to spew their venom and hatred. I dont believe they have given this reasoned thought and studious and humble prayer...I believe they are bitter, angry, and looking for a cause.

Thats an arrogant position...I know. It is not an uneducated belief however. Men in many of the fundamentalist Islamic nations attend prayers not because they want to or believe they should but because if they dont the mutawa will beat them publicly.

Lysis said...

Cameron:

I have long agonized over the story of Nephi’s killing of Laban? Thirty years ago I got some comfort from the argument that before Nephi would do the killing, he at least asked God for a REASON. However as the whole nation did dwindle and perish in unbelief, Nephi’s justification seems rather limp. I am reminded that the Bible claims that God ordered the Israelites to murder the seven nations of the Amorites; men, women, children, and pets, so the Chosen People would not be tainted by abomination. But then they were tainted anyway. So this critique is not unique to the Bible. Any other explanation of Nephi’s actions would be rationalizations at best, so I have come to accept that Nephi killed Laban and then came up with an excuse for it. This seems to fit under the heading, “a mistake of a man”, and one should be careful not to condemn the things of God because it appears in the Book of Mormon.

As for the killing of the “King’s men”; again I think Moroni’s actions unacceptable. Yet he was not really murdering prisoners as much as he was executing traitors and deserters. This is something that Caesar would have done – and I would credit Caesar with being a GREAT leader. But a perfect and godlike man? -- I think not. Mormon no doubt admired Moroni, he did name his son after him, but I don’t accept that God shared Mormon’s opinion.

Cicero:

It is great to hear from you. It seems to me that God has the “right” to kill anyone he pleases but I also believe that He has the power to do so without employing hit men.

I too would enjoy hearing the courageous discussion of difficult topics during this weekend’s conference. I am pleased to report that Hinckley’s talks, at the end of the Priesthood session, are usually very good; worth sitting through the rest to hear. But I am afraid that there will be precious little mention of “The War on Terror”, Abortion, or how to best cast one’s ballots in the November election, at Conference. Perhaps it is best to count on our reason after all; all the more reason to spend some time developing reason.

Truth to Power:

I accept your point as to the need to answer to the laws of men, then and now, if those laws justly subscribe themselves to the Laws that reason tells us are based on Universal Truths. Now would be a good time to reread the Pope’s quote from that Byzantine Emperor.

Mindmechanic:

I am in complete agreement with your assertion that terrorist, especially those at the top of the pile, bin Laden and such, are only pretending to believe in religion. They are no more followers of Allah than Lenin, Stalin, Mao, and Hoe really believed in Communism. Saddam murdered his people by the millions in his own name, and sought to establish a Greater Iraq that would stretched across the Middle East. Bin Laden had even greater ambitions before President Bush drove him to a cave to die of kidney failure and bad water.

All:

Can a God that condones the breach of his most “sacred” commandment in the name of expedience be a reasonable god? Can a god that is not reasonable be God? Socrates and Alkabiadies (sp) discussed “reason and expedience” for a long time, I wish they would have finished the discussion, but then perhaps Plato left that one to us, to reason.

Rumpole said...

Lysis,

You post: “It seems to me that God has the “right” to kill anyone he pleases but I also believe that He has the power to do so without employing hit men.”

Unless I misunderstand, in many previous discussions about evolution you have supported the position that it was more than reasonable for God to use that “process” as a vehicle to accomplishing his end.

I do not suggest that we revisit a debate on evolution. I am more interested in the question of how God interacts with man in the fulfilling of His will. Your position on Nephi seems inconsistent to me with previous positions you have taken as to the fulfilling of His will.

Is God bound to fulfilling his will through miraculous means? Is He bound by using natural means that seem to us to be more sophisticated? Or is it a combination of those two means depending on the expediency of the argument?

Lysis said...

Rumpole:

Although I am not above allowing my opinions to change on obtaining new insight, I do not see how my position on Nephi has changed. At most I am now clearly saying that Nephi excused himself by concocting a miraculous visitation to justify his actions. I am now more certain that the reason Nephi offered is less justifiable because the “prophesied” effect of the brass plates did not come to be.

Does God ever intervene in the natural processes of the Universe? I would accept He is capable. To quote Phoenix from the *Iliad*, “We do have prayers don’t we?” Why do we offer prayer if not to get God to act, to influence the natural process, to intervene on our petty behalves in the great chance that otherwise would alone directs the unfolding of all? The Fates spin away but God can surely direct their fingers!

I would say God is not bound to do anything, but he is perfectly capable of an occasional miracle. (Just because one can falsely claim a miracle occurred does not prevent God from real miracles should he choose to act.) The key here is that it is not reasonable for Him to ever act contrary to His Nature. He will not be unreasonable!

Cameron said...

I think perhaps the brass plates did benefit the Nephites greatly. The Book of Mormon notes that when the Nephites discovered the people of Zarahemla the newly discovered people were described as not knowing God. Lacking scripture, not very many years passed before an entire people had forgotten their heritage and their Deliverer.

The Nephite people had their ups and downs. But it can safely be said that hundreds of years and multiple generations of Nephites were blessed with the knowledge of God because of the brass plates, just as God told Nephi they would be.

It is educational to note that when dissenters from the gospel preached their falsities to the believers, they often said it wasn't "reasonable" to believe the prophets or the scriptures.

This is not to say that reason and understanding have no place with faith. But it was leaning on man's reason that caused us to read the Bible with "as far as it is translated correctly" always in our minds.

Rumpole said...

Lysis,

My feeble attempt at reason is not an effort to “change your opinion” through new insight. I wish only to obtain the truth by way of reason and faith.

You post: “Does God ever intervene in the natural processes of the Universe? I would accept He is capable.”

So here we can find common ground. God is capable of using man as an instrument in intervening in the natural processes of the universe. I recognize and acknowledge you do not believe it actually happened in Nephi’s case because you believe Nephi’s claim of instruction from God was “not reasonable for Him (God) to ever act contrary to His Nature,” hence no such instruction occurred.

In my mind then, the debate now shifts to the reasonableness of Nephi’s actions. If I may borrow from the current presidential administration, are “preemptive” actions ever justifiable? Would the use of preemptive measures with man as the instrument be contrary to the nature of God? Further, would it be sin to use such preemptive measures even if not commanded by God?

At the Agora we have often discussed President Bush’s actions. I am quite certain that you, as do I, support his approach to the war on terror. He has received great criticism for the “preemptive” war that he has waged. Is he wrong?

Though we have the 20-20 hindsight of history, have we not discussed the advantages of a preemptive removal of Hitler? Would such action have been considered contrary to the nature of God?

What about Clinton and Osama? Per your postings and condemnations (along with mine) Clinton had eight opportunities to preemptively remove Osama. He was a miserable failure.

Perhaps we should view Clinton as a great success because he did not act contrary to the nature of God!

With President Bush’s leadership, will America survive the war on terror? I believe she will. But will future generations be wise enough to make the courageous decisions of survival? Possibly, yes. Possibly, no. I do not have the ability of prophecy.

I would therefore suggest then, as to our common ground, that God is capable of using man (perhaps Nephi) as an instrument in intervening in the natural processes of the universe. Further, I would suggest that it is possible that Nephi acted preemptively according to his power of reason. Finally, I offer that though his nation eventually did indeed dwindle in unbelief, great hosts benefited by his actions. The same may eventually be said about President Bush.

Lysis said...

Rumpole:

As to preemptive actions against enemies, they are perfectly acceptable in conditions of war, of self defense, of combat with armed and determined enemies seeking your death. But once these enemies are in your control, under you power, you cannot kill them, or torture them. (Although, I would argue you certainly can interrogate them.) Nephi’s problem is that he had Laban completely under his control. Laban was in his hands, he then had a responsibility to him. It is not that Nephi killed Laban that bothers me; it is how and where he did it. Reason allows us to draw these lines.

I hope every day for the death of Osama; in fact I am quite sure he is already dead, but if he were to come into our hands, as Saddam did, then he is our responsibility to deal with in a reasonable way.

Clinton certainly did act contrary to the nature of God, it is not reasonable to ignore opportunities to destroy the enemies of the people you are by oath and duty bound to defend, people who are innocent and under attack from a monster. Clinton did not behave reasonable when he chose political popularity over the destruction of evil.

You have cut right to the difference between Bush and Clinton, Reason. President Bush acts reasonably in his war against evil. Clinton chose to desert reason in a vain and failed effort to remain popular.

As for God using a man as a weapon to defeat evil, there are many cases worth mentioning. David and Goliath, Sampson and the Philistines, Heleman and the Laminates, but all of these “scriptural heroes” acted within the bounds of reason, destroying their enemies in battle where self defense and the defense of good were necessary motivators for their actions. If you want to stretch Nephi’s actions to this high standard I fear you must abandon reason, you must ascribe to Nephi and to God the very traits God by nature despises. If God had brought Nephi face to face with Laban and aided his arm in his defeat and death, He would have been acting in character, but to deliver him up helpless and leave it to Nephi’s to choose to kill a defenseless man is an example of the very “disbelief” God sought to keep us from when he gave to us our sense of right and wrong.

Cameron said...

As long as you accept that nephi was inspired...commanded by God to kill Laban, you must catagorically allow for men like Osama and other religious fanatics to claim the same right."

Anyone can claim to be inspired, but that does not make it so. The question then becomes how to discern if someone is inspired or not?

I feel that the same power that inspired Nephi can help me discern the truth.

Cameron said...

In General Conferences past, President Hinckley has spoken of the war on terror as well as in Iraq.

Rumpole said...

Lysis,

You post: “As to preemptive actions against enemies, they are perfectly acceptable in conditions of war, of self defense, of combat with armed and determined enemies seeking your death.”

You site several examples of “God using a man as a weapon to defeat evil”

Laban had “sought to take away (Nephi’s) own life (BOM).” By your standard, was not Nephi’s response in self-defense? Was Laban not an “enemy seeking (Nephi’s) death (Lysis)?”

Laban sent the “hit men” (BOM), if you will, after Nephi. I do not believe Nephi’s actions to be a “stretch” of reason. The fact that Nephi’s opportunity for self-preservation came when Laban was drunk was certainly a god-given opportunity to Nephi’s advantage.

Do you suggest that if Goliath had been drunk God would have had David wait until Goliath was sober? It is not reasonable! It is reasonable, however, to accept that God would have His instrument (Nephi) exploit the enemy’s weakness in order to bring his purposes to pass!

Further, is not a well-planned and executed surprise attack, such as Patterson suggested had been prepared by the Clinton Administration in your quotes from his book, having your enemy “completely under your contol?” Is the enemy’s lack of knowledge or lack of capacity reason not to strike?

That is why I do not believe it is a stretch to believe that Nephi acted more than reasonably when he destroyed Laban.

Lysis said...
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Lysis said...

Cameron:

I appreciate the links to speeches by President Hinckley relating to the War on Terror – I actually remember them both, but I stand by my prediction that except for perhaps Hinckley – no one will take on the difficult topics of our world today. Speeches will be on chastity, the world of wisdom, paying tithing, attending the temple, obedience to commandments not specified, and other such non controversial subjects. There will probably be a wonderful speech on the atonement of Christ – the foundation of my religion as well as of the Universe, and there will certainly be multiple references to the Willy Handcart Company. I have nothing against these topics – I am listening to these speeches as I write, in fact Richard Scott is giving my “Ropes That Set Us Free” speech right now. I hope I at least appear in a foot note. But I would like to hear the representatives of God on earth speak to the issues that face our world today. What I long for are stirring questions, and the reasoned answers that God provides for them.

Rumpole:

It seems that you MAY have a reasonable position, on Nephi, but before I accept it and change my opinion to that of the killing of Laban being a sneak attack during a long running battle between Nephi and his guys, and Laban and his terror troopers, please answer these questions. Isn’t it true that once Nephi had dispatched Laban, he –Nephi, went on to steal the Brass Plates which by right belonged to Laban’s family and kidnap one of his servants. Did he not threaten to kill that servant if he did not join their company? Had Laban attacked Nephi? (Yes, and stolen his positions as well) But had Nephi tried to go to the authorities to recover his lost property, or did he simply take the law into his own hands as he set out to get the Brass Plates at any cost? Had Nephi considered every other possible tack in dealing with Laban? Could he have taken him prisoner? Could Nephi have bargained with Laban from his new found position of power over him? I would enjoy reasoning through these.

As to your question – “Is a well-planned and executed surprise attack, such as Patterson suggested had been prepared by the Clinton Administration in your quotes from his book, having your enemy “completely under your control?” Is the enemy’s lack of knowledge or lack of capacity reason not to strike?” I would say NO! If we kill Osama or others in an attack it is not the same as having them helpless in our control, “drunk and asleep at our feet”, or locked up in our Prison in Guantanamo Bay. Had Clinton pulled the trigger and “greased” bin Laden in the Afghan mountains he would have acted justly, had he captured him and then killed him without trial and evidence presented to reasonably justify execution Clinton would have lowered our country to the level of the terrorists. [He lowered us in so many other ways.] It is not just the innocent that reasonably have claim on mercy, it is the helpless, even the evil helpless.

matttheo59020677 said...
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Rumpole said...

Lysis,

You post: but before I accept it and change my opinion to that of the killing of Laban being a sneak attack during a long running battle between Nephi and his guys, and Laban and his terror troopers, please answer these questions.”

I don’t think I have painted Nephi exactly this way, but your description made me smile. Let’s continue the discussion, then, and call it “The killing of Laban as a sneak attack during a long running battle between Nephi and his guys, and Laban and his terror troopers.”

By Nephi’s account, God covenanted with Nephi the gift of a choice land on condition of obedience. (1 Nephi 2:20. note that this covenant was made before Lehi sent Nephi on the errand for the plates). Nephi’s opportunity for freedom was no less an opportunity for freedom than you support for the people of Iraq, or for our own forefathers. In fact, Nephi’s journey for freedom would take him to the same continents that our forefathers “discovered.”

As to the right to obtaining that freedom, review what Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence:

"Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established, should not be changed for light and transient causes; and, accordingly, all experience [has] shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But, when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce [the people] under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security."

As to your questions: “Isn’t it true that once Nephi had dispatched Laban, he -Nephi, went on to steal the Brass Plates which by right belonged to Laban’s family . . .”

I know of nowhere in Scripture where ownership of the Brass Plates is assigned to Laban. If I am wrong, point it out to me. Laban was, however, the “custodian” of the plates, plates that should have been considered “public record” (i.e. birth certificates, death certificates, etc.). That “public record” had been withheld from the people.

Nephi’s right to obtaining “public record” on the brass plates was no less a fundamental right that was seized, just as our framers seized personal rights that had been abused and were delineated in the Declaration of Independence.

Next question: “(Nephi went on to) kidnap one of his servants. Did he not threaten to kill that servant if he did not join their company?

While it is true that the servant was deceived, he was not kidnapped. Nephi, being the leader of a “storm trooper” brigade, was tired and needed someone to carry the plates. It is tough work leading a covert action in the middle of a revolution. Zoram, though deceived, followed without force.When Zoram became privy to the deception, negotiations ensued.

In all seriousness, when you are in the “battlefield” with an enemy combatant, you have limited resources, and you risk discovery during a covert action, what are your options? Nephi’s offer of freedom verses death to Zoram was more than reasonable considering the circumstances.

I would suggest to you that the answer to the rest of you questions lies in “discovery.” Sure, the authorities eventually figured out that Laben had been killed (circumstances which you MAY have accepted). The exit strategy from covert actions (again, in all seriousness) requires maintenance of secrecy. It gave Nephi and his family the necessary head start they needed.

Further, what would negotiations with authorities have netted Nephi? Those same authorities were the very individuals that had withheld the public record that Nephi sought.

I look forward to your reply.

Cameron said...

"If we kill Osama or others in an attack it is not the same as having them helpless in our control, “drunk and asleep at our feet”, or locked up in our Prison in Guantanamo Bay. Had Clinton pulled the trigger and “greased” bin Laden in the Afghan mountains he would have acted justly, had he captured him and then killed him without trial and evidence presented to reasonably justify execution Clinton would have lowered our country to the level of the terrorists."

I'm curious about this line of reasoning. How is it ok to kill a man with a bomb from far away, but not to kill him face to face when the evidence against the man is the same?

Lysis said...

Cameron: A quick answer to you. Rumpole, please give me some time:

It is Okay to kill a man from a distance or close up when he is at war with you and fighting against you, but when the same man is in your power, under your control, a helpless prisoner, then to kill him does not seem to me to be the course that a reasonable God would ask anyone to pursue. Let there be a trail, let the truth be proved, then let justice take it’s course. That is the obligation Athena laid on Western Justice at the trial of Oresties. (At lease according to Aeschylus.)

Lysis said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lysis said...

Rumpole:

I asked some questions, all I want is some answers. Below I will review the questions I asked, give what I perceived to be your answers, and then offer some comments to which you might kindly respond.

1. Q - Isn’t it true that once Nephi had dispatched Laban, he –Nephi, went on to steal the Brass Plates which by right belonged to Laban’s family and kidnap one of his servants?

A – I know of nowhere in Scripture where ownership of the Brass Plates is assigned to Laban. If I am wrong, point it out to me. Laban was, however, the “custodian” of the plates, plates that should have been considered “public record” (i.e. birth certificates, death certificates, etc.). That “public record” had been withheld from the people.

Nephi’s right to obtaining “public record” on the brass plates was no less a fundamental right that was seized, just as our framers seized personal rights that had been abused and were delineated in the Declaration of Independence.


MY COMMENT ON YOUR ANSWER: Lehi states quite clearly that Laban HATH the record of the Jews and also a genealogy of thy forefathers, and “they are engraven upon plats of brass.” It seems quite clear to me that the plates were Laban’s. The son’s of Lehi offered to buy the plates, an offer which Laban refused. - If you won’t sell, we will take - doesn’t really seem like a “Declaration of Independence”. Here’s another question: If the County Clerk refused to had over the county records to me so I could take them off into the desert to pass down to my children, and he refused – would the Declaration of Independence justify my killing the jerk the next time I found him lying drunk in a ditch?

You question Laban’s right to this property, but you have not answered the question – did Nephi steal the plates; if they weren’t Laban’s they surely weren’t Nephi’s.

2. Q - Did he not threaten to kill that servant if he did not join their company?

A - While it is true that the servant was deceived, he was not kidnapped. Nephi, being the leader of a “storm trooper” brigade, was tired and needed someone to carry the plates. It is tough work leading a covert action in the middle of a revolution. Zoram, though deceived, followed without force. When Zoram became privy to the deception, negotiations ensued.

MY COMMENT TO YOUR ANSWER: As for Zoram’s choice; here it is as delivered by Nephi in his own book: “And it came to pass that I spake with him, that if he would hearken unto my words, as the Lord liveth, and as I live, even so that is he would hearken unto our words, WE WOULD SPARE HIS LIFE.” First Nephi, Ch 4:32. If in my raid on the County Clerk I tricked one of the Police Officers on duty at the Court House to carrying the records to my car would the Declaration of Independence justify my killing him if he wouldn’t move to the desert and marry my sister?

3. Q - Had Laban attacked Nephi? (Yes, and stolen his positions as well)

A – I guess you were satisfied with my answer, so am I, but . . .

Q - But had Nephi tried to go to the authorities to recover his lost property, or did he simply take the law into his own hands as he set out to get the Brass Plates at any cost?

A - I would suggest to you that the answer to the rest of you questions lies in “discovery.” . . . Further, what would negotiations with authorities have netted Nephi? Those same authorities were the very individuals that had withheld the public record that Nephi sought.

MY COMMENT ON YOUR ANSWER: It seems to me the Zedekiah was king of Judah at the time, not Laban, and there is no mention of Lehi or Nephi going to Zedekiah over their request for the brass plates, or perhaps a copy of them. It seems to me that Zedekiah had at least on righteous son, Mulek, who could probably have helped Lehi get a copy of the plates before they both headed off to America. I imagine Mulek might have brought the plates with him to the Promised Land if Nephi hadn’t stolen them!

Q - Had Nephi considered every other possible tack in dealing with Laban?

A – No answer offered.

Q - Could he have taken him prisoner?

A – No answer is offered.

Q - Could Nephi have bargained with Laban from his new found position of power over him?

A – No answer offered.

Rumpole, your attempted application of the Declaration of Independence to Nephi’s action falls flat on at least two points. One – Laban was not an unjust government, he was a man with a valuable piece of private property that he did not want to sell. Lehi was not in rebellion against Laban, he just wanted his “good stuff”. Two – Our founding fathers set out their just grievances against the king in the Declaration of Independence, they then went on to fight a just war to abolish the Kings power over them and establish new guides to provide their natural rights. However if during that war they committed unjust acts – example, murdering British soldiers that had fallen into their hands – a reasonable God would have held them accountable for their murders.

Again – I might accept your explanation of Nephi’s covert actions had he first tried to go to the king and get some help in dealing with Laban’s unjust acts. It seems rather that Nephi dug himself deeper into injustice by forcing Zoram to go with him or die.

Another question to you: If Zoram would have refused Nephi’s offer, would Nephi have been justified in killing him in order to escape the “murder” scene?

Another question to you: What if Zoram would have escaped and gone to King Zedekiah for justice, how would Zedekiah have justly dealt with Nephi?

P.S. I did hear B. K. Packer's mention of “The War”. I guess one sentence is better than nothing.

Rumpole said...

Lysis,

You post: "Lehi states quite clearly that Laban HATH the record of the Jews and also a genealogy of thy forefathers, and “they are engraven upon plats of brass.”

This is the proof of Laban and his family’s ownership of the plates? Where is his family mentioned? From such it is not even reasonable to infer that Laban owned the plates. All we know is that Laban had them. Is my inference that Laban was simply the custodian of the plates equally implausible? No, it is far more reasonable. Based on Zoram’s questions about the drunken gathering of Laban and the elders that evening, along with Zoram’s speaking many times concerning the elders (1 Nephi 4:22, 27), I believe my inference to be far more likely.

You post: "The son’s of Lehi offered to buy the plates, an offer which Laban refused. - If you won’t sell, we will take - doesn’t really seem like a “Declaration of Independence”.

Here I will agree with you. Nephi’s bribe to a public official was probably not the wisest course. It has always bothered me. I attribute it to a mistake made by a man. As the forward of the Book of Mormon suggests in reference to its writing, I would offer that in his pursuit to follow instruction, Nephi was certainly capable of “the mistakes of men.”

You post: "If the County Clerk refused to had over the county records to me so I could take them off into the desert to pass down to my children, and he refused – would the Declaration of Independence justify my killing the jerk the next time I found him lying drunk in a ditch?"

I don’t think County Clerks existed in ancient Israel. Different time, different government. Further, there are multiple sources to read the Declaration and the constitution, not to mention their public display. None of these avenues was available to Nephi. Had they been, he could have just gone to Kinko’s to get a copy of what he needed. As I suggested earlier, those records were kept from the people. Nephi’s desire for “open disclosure” is just as valid as the Colonies struggle with “taxation without representation.” It was not a matter of convenience, it was a matter of access.

You post: "If in my raid on the County Clerk I tricked one of the Police Officers on duty at the Court House to carrying the records to my car would the Declaration of Independence justify my killing him if he wouldn’t move to the desert and marry my sister?"

This is a great demonstration of your unreasonableness in our discussion. Even under threat of their life, no one would be forced to marry your sister. Albeit deliberately or honestly, you fail to acknowledge the freedom that you possess, and that others possess in the declining of such an invitation, as the same freedom that Nephi sought. Jefferson, in a document you revere, suggested that it is the right of all men to possess that freedom.

Nephi offered Zoram opportunity that Zoram would otherwise not have. “And I spake unto him, even with an oath, that he need not fear; that he should be a free man like unto us if he would go down in the wilderness with us (verse 33).” Should Nephi have made that offer while threatening Zoram’s life? Perhaps not. But in my view it does not destroy the validity of his quest.

I need to mention here that I made a mistake. Zoram didn’t carry the plates. Nephi did. Nephi simply asked Zoram to follow (1 Nephi 4: 24-25.

You post: "It seems to me the Zedekiah was king of Judah at the time, not Laban, and there is no mention of Lehi or Nephi going to Zedekiah over their request for the brass plates, or perhaps a copy of them. It seems to me that Zedekiah had at least on righteous son, Mulek, who could probably have helped Lehi get a copy of the plates before they both headed off to America. I imagine Mulek might have brought the plates with him to the Promised Land if Nephi hadn’t stolen them!"

Here you are reduced to speculation. I certainly accept that I also speculate when I suggest to you that for whatever reason, Nephi felt that those avenues were not available to him. 1 Nephi 1: 18-21 describes how Lehi went among the people with his message, a message that was rejected. It was rejected to the point that his life was in jeopardy. Does that sound to you like Lehi lived in servitude to a righteous king and son? Again, based on the information we have I believe my position to be the more reasonable.

You post: "Had Nephi considered every other possible tack in dealing with Laban?"

I have offered no answer because I don’t know. Unfortunately the record we have does not mention all of Nephi’s considerations.

You post: "Could he have taken him prisoner?"

This is a question I have answered. I will answer in more detail if you prefer. No. At least I wouldn’t have, and I have no issue with that. Speed and secrecy were essential in the exit strategy. Further, if Zoram had been taken prisoner, assuming a safe return to his father’s tent, what would have been done with him? Send him to Gito?

Nephi delineates his purpose for the offer in verse 36 – “Now we were desirous that he should tarry with us for this cause, that the Jews might not know concerning our flight into the wilderness, lest they should pursue us and destroy us.”

It is interesting to note that apparently Zoram didn’t have any issue with the bargain. Verse 37 – “And it came to pass that when Zoram had made an oath unto us, our fears did cease concerning him.”

You post: "Could Nephi have bargained with Laban from his new found position of power over him?"

What power had Nephi gained over Laban? Laban had demonstrated he had no desire to negotiate. There is nothing to suggest that further negotiations would have netted a different result.

You post: "Rumpole, your attempted application of the Declaration of Independence to Nephi’s action falls flat on at least two points. One – Laban was not an unjust government, he was a man with a valuable piece of private property that he did not want to sell. Lehi was not in rebellion against Laban, he just wanted his “good stuff”."

Here we must disagree. You have offered no proof that the plates were indeed private property. I acknowledge that what I offer is also not provable, but it is certainly more reasonable based on the information we have.

Lehi was in rebellion with the Jews, and with the authority that Laban represented (see 1 Nephi 1: 18-21). Additionally, if Lehi had just wanted the “good stuff”, why didn’t Nephi have Zoram carry more out of the treasury? Zoram’s hands were free. As I mentioned before, all he did was follow Nephi.

You post: "Two – Our founding fathers set out their just grievances against the king in the Declaration of Independence, they then went on to fight a just war to abolish the Kings power over them and establish new guides to provide their natural rights. However if during that war they committed unjust acts – example, murdering British soldiers that had fallen into their hands – a reasonable God would have held them accountable for their murders."

Lehi had set out his just grievances against the Jews. Again, see 1 Nephi 1: 18-21. The Jews were angry with Lehi as he exercised his right to free speech, a right that the Jews did not recognize. They were angry to the point that they tried to kill Lehi.

As to the murder of Laban being an unjust act, you post: "As to preemptive actions against enemies, they are perfectly acceptable in conditions of war, of self defense, of combat with armed and determined enemies seeking your death."

And further: "It seems that you MAY have a reasonable position, on Nephi . . ."

As to your hypothetical questions:

You post: "If Zoram would have refused Nephi’s offer, would Nephi have been justified in killing him in order to escape the “murder” scene?"

If Zoram would have refused the offer for freedom, would Nephi have carried out his threat?

You post: "What if Zoram would have escaped and gone to King Zedekiah for justice, how would Zedekiah have justly dealt with Nephi?"

As I have suggested the information in Lehi’s accounts contradicts the assertion that there was a just king. How did Britain’s King respond to the Colonies when he was appealed to for justice?

I intended no oversight on your questions previously. If I have missed something here I certainly apologize. I look forward to your reasonable response.

Lysis said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lysis said...

Rumpole:

1. Oh come on, Custodian/Owner. Please refer to First Nephi 5 : 16 where it explains that Laban also was a descendant of Joseph, wherefore he and his fathers had kept the records. It seems to me that Laban had a legal claim to the plates, but the point is moot. Laban had them and Nephi took them after killing to get them. Deal with my “murder of the county Clerk” question and quit trying to explain how “it all depends what is is”.

I would agree with you that Nephi was capable of making “the mistakes of men” without voiding the “truthfulness of the Book of Mormon”, but I’m just suggesting that reason seems to demand that “murdering and then making up a divine excuse” could be just as logical an error as “bribing a public official”.

As far as Nephi’s not having read the Declaration of Independence – he had no need to, the truths therein – including the one about “right to life” were as self evident in the time of Nephi as they were in the time of Jefferson Taxation without representation is only one example of injustice. It was the injustice that got the Founding Fathers steamed, not just the 30+ particulars they listed. I imagine that the king had murdered record keepers to take their plates off into the desert the founders would have listed that injustice as well.

I would be insulted by your aspersions against my sister if I had one, as it is I’ll let it pass. The key here is how does murdering Laban to get the plates equate to the just over through of a failed government when Laban was not the government. The ends cannot justify these means. The Declaration of Independence justifies rebellion against tyranny not murder to get records that teach a formula for living that could be provided by common sense. I t point out that lots of people have managed to gain freedom without the Brass plates, and the Nephites didn’t keep theirs long even with them.

As far as Nephi’s’ threat to kill Zoram, your best response is “the ends justifies the means”? You avoided the question of why Nephi didn’t go to Mulek for help.

As far as Nephi’s failure to go to the proper government officials, your “answer” is. “I can speculate as well as you” – “and I speculate that Nephi had a good reason for not going to the Law for help”. The truth is I am not speculating. I say that Nephi did not go to the King. That is clearly born out by Nephi’s own testimony of his actions. Why is speculative? That’s your game.

As for Nephi’s attempting other tacks, you say “the record does not mention all of Nephi’s considerations.” You are right – but it does seem logical that, since he is giving a day by day, play by play; he would have mentioned something this important. The fact remains that he took the law into his own hands.

You say Nephi couldn’t have taken Laban a prisoner. Why not? He took Zoram. I agree it would have been difficult – but didn’t Nephi say that God never gives a commandment unto the children of men without providing a way for them to fulfill it. Couldn’t God have provided a just way to control Laban?

As for the Jews perusing and destroying Nephi and company; I would say that Nephi realized that there would be some kind of response to the murder of a drunk and the theft of his property. It seems that Nephi was perfectly aware of the ability of the government to act when needed.

As for Zoram’s acquiescence to Nephi’s demands – that does not make the demands just. My question was what if Zoram would have said no.

You ask, “What power did Nephi gain over Laban”? The same power Nephi had over Zoram. It worked for on Zoram didn’t it? There is no suggestion that further negotiations would have failed with Laban, the only indication is that there were no negotiations.

There is no mention about Zedekiah or his government in the verses you reference. And you scold me for supposing that because Laban had the plates, and Nephi tried to buy them from him, Laban owned them. Lehi was not in rebellion against the government of Zedekiah, he was trying to save the Jews, and they choose not to believe his threats.

As for good stuff – Nephi obviously took what he valued most.

Your argument on my second point concerning the Declaration of independence falls on the same two points as your first. First Lehi was not rebelling against the Jews; he was trying to save them. Secondly, there is no mention of the king or his government. Lehi was mad at sinners. Just because a bunch of crooks are out to get you does not justify your bumping off the County Clerk to take his records. Perhaps Lehi could have got away from the Jews without the brass plates. Maybe he could have got God to drop off a copy of the King James Version along with the magic compass. The fact remains that Nephi did not overturn an unjust government and bring freedom to an oppressed people he took a book he wanted for the benefit of his own family and left the Jews to go to Babylon.

As to the quote from my post "As to preemptive actions against enemies, they are perfectly acceptable in conditions of war, of self defense, of combat with armed and determined enemies seeking your death." You do not finish my argument. Which was that once the enemies are under our power, once they are helpless, we have an obligation to Justice in dealing with them.

You list my questions about Nephi carrying out his threat and killing Zoram and about Zoram going to the King for justice by claiming that, “Zedekiah was not a just king”. We have the list of George III’s crimes. The Bible does indeed say he was wicked – but it does not mention injustice, nor, to the point does Nephi. But again my point here must be, do two wrongs make a right? Since Zedekiah was evil - Nephi can do evil; is not a good argument for the Democrats, the Communists, or the Mormons. Remember, that if George Washington would have murdered captured British soldiers once they were helplessly in his hands, he would not have been any better than George III.

Although George III did not respond positively to the Colonies appeals, they did at least at first appeal. Indeed their frequent appeals and George’s refusal to hear them were the justification for their eventual rebellion.

You have still not answered the questions about Zoram; I accept your apology but ask for your answers.

I have enjoyed this chance to carefully examine the actions of Nephi as accounted in the B of M and must admit that I have much to question that I had hitherto judged settled.

Cameron said...

Lysis,

I've been thinking much about this Nephi conversation. Last night in particular I was reminded of something you wrote regarding Nephi's intentions in the matter. You wrote that it was your opinion that Nephi killed Laban of his own accord and then invented the "God told me to" story to cover his tracks. Here's my problem with that. Nephi was alone with Laban. No one saw or knew what happened, no one but Nephi and God. So if Nephi sinned in killing Laban and then covered his tracks as you suggest, wouldn't he have left out the killing part in his history? Why include it at all? He could have invented any reason under the sun as to what happened that night, certainly something better than murder.

Lysis said...

Cameron:

This is an excellent question, it is late and I will sleep on it. However – perhaps Nephi did not see any reason God would not want him to kill Laban. Follow me on this. Nephi thought God would approve of the killing so he made up the story to fit his belief of what he thought God would want. Those who see that a reasonable God must always act reasonably; that God cannot command evil; are forced to question Nephi’s story. It contradicts the nature of God.

Rumpole said...

Lysis,

You post: “Please refer to First Nephi 5: 16 where it explains that Laban also was a descendant of Joseph, wherefore he and his fathers had kept the records.”

I would suggest to you that my arguments hinged on ownership. I knew those arguments hinged on ownership. In fact, I posted: “I know of nowhere in Scripture where ownership of the Brass Plates is assigned to Laban. If I am wrong, point it out to me.”

So Laban’s family indeed does appear to be the owner of the record. You were right and I was wrong.

Let’s back up, then, to your posting where you suggest: “It seems that you MAY have a reasonable position, on Nephi, but before I accept it and change my opinion to that of the killing of Laban being a sneak attack during a long running battle between Nephi and his guys, and Laban and his terror troopers, please answer these questions. Isn’t it true that once Nephi had dispatched Laban, he –Nephi, went on to steal the Brass Plates which by right belonged to Laban’s family and kidnap one of his servants.”

I note that you continue on with several questions along that same line of argument. I emphasize to you as I craft this response, I am not attempting to avoid any of your questions. First, an attempt to answer your questions about the procurement of the Brass Plates...

May I offer the following as something to consider? After President Bush was successful in “dispatching” Sadaam, did his search for WMD’s cease? Was not the purpose of the “preemption” directed at the safety and freedom of both Americans and Iraqis?

You post: “I hope every day for the death of Osama . . . ,” as do I. But will the war on terror end with the death of Osama? Did it end with the capture of Sadaam? Those were great days, and they are monumental in the war on terror. However, the war necessarily continues.

Nephi’s objective was never to destroy Laban. He desired that “a nation should (not) dwindle and perish in unbelief." In effect, Nephi proposed his 32 points (i.e. President Bush’s speech, reason for the action in Iraq) to Laban on two separate occasions (though, as I have said, the bribe has always bothered me). Laban sought to destroy Nephi. Laban was killed. Laban’s death was not a “means to an end; as we have already discussed, Nephi acted reasonably.

Nephi then retrieved what was his purpose. You can refer to it as the “good stuff” if you want to. He only took the plates from the treasury. After Sadaam was removed, was it unreasonable for President Bush to search for and find WMD’s? Was it unreasonable for President Bush to continue to try to reach his original goals, safety for Americans and freedom for Iraqis? Has President Bush sought anything beyond the “good stuff?” The Iraqi’s have their oil. Iraq has not been declared the 51st state.

As you have suggested, are we not “liberators” rather than “occupiers?”

The safety and freedom of both Americans and Iraqis are inexorably tied to both Sadaam and Osami. But, as you have suggested on many occasions, that safety and that freedom doesn’t end there.

Nephi’s desire that “a nation should (not) dwindle and perish in unbelief” was inexorably tied to Laban. But, as the Book of Mormon implies, and as I now suggest, it didn’t end with Laban. It didn't end with the procurement of the plates, though that was a necessary step.

As for Nephi’s handling of Zoram, I guess you’ll have to give me a little more time. I sure I can eventually come up with something we both can chew on.

Lysis said...

Cameron:

Forgive me for putting words in you post, but you might well ask how could Nephi as a Prophet of God have lied about his vision?

Consider these questions:

1. How could Adam as a Prophet of God have disobeyed Him and eaten the fruit of knowledge.

2. How could Adam as a Prophet of God think he could hide from God in a bush?

3. How could Cain, who spoke with God face to face murder his brother at the order of the devil?

4. How could Abraham as a Prophet of God lie to Pharaoh about the identity of his wife, claiming that she was his sister?

5. How could Abraham as a Prophet of God send his concubine, Hagar and his son Ishmael out into the wilderness to die?

6. How could Abraham as a Prophet of God be willing to commit a human sacrifice?

7. How could Jacob as a Prophet of God trick his father (lie to him) in order to steal his brother’s birth right, or if not steal how could have be so mean as to buy it off his hungry brother for a bowl of soup?

8. How could Joseph as the Prophet of God lie to his brothers about his identity and get his innocent little brother arrested for a crime he didn’t’ commit?

9. How could Moses as a Prophet of God murder an Egyptian?

10. How could Moses as a Prophet of God taken credit for saving the Children of Israel when he knew it was God that had done it. (I personally never thought this a big fault on Moses’ part – but obviously God did.)

11. How could Elisha as a Prophet of God call out some wild bears to kill a bunch of kids for mocking his bald head?

12. How could Peter as a Prophet of God lie three times about Jesus on the day of Jesus death?

13. How could Joseph Smith as a Prophet of God directly disobey God and hand over the Book of Lehi to the enemies of the Church?

14. How could Joseph Smith as a Prophet of God participate in Polygamy and lie about it?

15. How could Brigham Young as a Prophet of God preach war on the United States of America and enter into treaty alliances with his nations enemies while serving as the territorial Governor of Utah?

16. How could Brigham Young as a Prophet of God disregard Gods command not to discriminate between people based on their color and decree that black men (from Africa) could not share equally in the blessing of the church?

17. How could Brigham Young as a Prophet of God hide what he knew about Mountain Meadows and kill one man as a scapegoat for the crimes of many?

It seems to me that lots of prophets did lots of things that a reasonable God would not condone.


Rumpole:

You have provided an excellent example of the true definition of begging the question.

Q – Why did Nephi have a right to take the brass plates?

A – What ever Nephi did was right. Nephi took the plates. Therefore taking the plates must have been right.

After requiring me to go to some length to prove Laban’s right to owner whip, I think it only fair that you prove Nephi’s. And he needed them, doesn’t seem to be a good one. If the U.S. had invaded Iraq because we needed their oil, I believe there would be some question as to the justice of that invasion, especial since we have all the oil we need sitting under our own country up in Alaska. Nephi surely had access to the scripture in other ways that by the murder of their owner, stealing, and kidnapping. You sound like Pappy Finn advising Huck to liberate some chickens.

Cameron said...

Lysis,

My question did not address Nephi's prophet-ness. It just seems more logical to me that since he was the only one who knew what happened between himself and Laban that if he was truly just covering for himself then he would have left that part out completely.

Lysis said...

Cameron:

Then please refer to my answer of last night: Nephi thought it would be alright to kill Laban; he thought people might even praise him for it. As he didn’t think it a crime to follow God’s command he made up a command that he thought would make him look good to those who read his book. As he didn’t think he had committed a crime he didn’t try to cover it up. This does not mean that he, like many other prophets, didn’t commit a crime.

Cameron said...

If he didn't think it was a crime, then why did he make up the "God made me" part?

Lysis said...

Cameron:

To be honest – I don’t know, but since I am sure that God would not make such a command, I will speculate that Nephi wanted to add glory to his deed and to make sure everyone else knew why it was something “wonderful”; the way he believed it was. Again, he thought what he did was right, he just wanted to make sure all his followers would as well.

Cameron said...

One thing still bugs me though. In your examples of other prophets' mistakes, the scriptures generally follow up with a reprimand. Or we see the consequence of the action.

Why would God stay silent on this one?

Lysis said...

Camreon:

Adam’s “consequence” for hiding in the bushes – a new suite.

Abraham’s “consequence” for lying to Pharaoh – the Promised Land.

Abraham’s “consequence” for the attempted murder of his woman and her son - he got to the patriarch of two nations.

Abraham’s “consequence” for his willingness to commit human sacrifice - his elevation to the example of obedience.

Jacob’s “consequence” for stealing his brother’s birthright - the Covenant.

Josephs’ “consequence” for lying to his brothers, he became their ruler - and by the way he got the birthright.

Elisa’s “consequence” for killing kids for calling him bald, well fed bears.

Peter’s “consequence” for denying Christ, he became the stone upon which the Church was built – the first bishop of Rome.

Joseph Smith’s “consequence” for practicing polygamy and lying about it, more wives.

Brigham Young’s “consequence” for injecting racism into the LDS Church – from God? YOU tell me

Brigham Young’s “consequence” for hiding the truth about Mountain Meadows, 100 years of silence.

Rumpole said...

Lysis,

Are the currents of the “mighty Mississippi” taking you further and further from where you want to be? Is it difficult to stem the tide? Is the Red Sea parting?

Have you resorted to the tactics of the Anonymy as you feel the debate slipping away? Are you more interested in talking about the rules of the debate rather than the debate itself?

You post: “You have provided an excellent example of the true definition of begging the question.

Q – Why did Nephi have a right to take the brass plates?

A – What ever Nephi did was right. Nephi took the plates. Therefore taking the plates must have been right.”

You apparently missed my chastisement of Nephi. Let me repeat it for you. “Nephi’s bribe to a public official was probably not the wisest course. It has always bothered me. I attribute it to a mistake made by a man.”

Nephi was a man. He made mistakes.

You have posted: “As to preemptive actions against enemies, they are perfectly acceptable in conditions of war, of self defense, of combat with armed and determined enemies seeking your death.”

As I have implied, Laban was clearly Nephi’s enemy. Laban sought Nephi’s death. Nephi acted reasonably by taking Laban’s life after his own life was in peril.

When President Bush entered Iraq, was his “preemptive” purpose to kill Saddam? Was his preemptive purpose to kill Alzawahari (sorry about the spelling)? Or was his preemptive purpose to secure the safety and the freedom of both Americans and Iraqis? I would suggest to you that Saddam’s capture and Alzawahari’s death were reasonable steps in the process of the larger objectives of safety and freedom.

When Nephi returned to Jerusalem, was his “preemptive” purpose to kill Laban? Or was his preemptive purpose to assure that “a nation should (not) dwindle and perish in unbelief?” Should he have stopped at the death of Laban, or was his continued preemptive action “perfectly acceptable in conditions of war, of self defense, of combat with armed and determined enemies,” in order that he could fulfill his true purpose?

As President Bush continues the war on terror, is he “begging the question?” Should he have stopped when Saddam was captured? When Alzawahari was killed? At those junctures should President Bush have ceased his search for WMD’s? Should he have called of the dogs on remaining terrorists?

Do you believe that President Bush continues to act reasonably, or do you believe that whatever President Bush does is right, and therefore his continued aggression must be right?

And before you go back to the “it didn’t work for Nephi so it must not be true” defense, if President Bush is not successful (and you know I hope he is) will that be proof that he acted in error? Will it be proof that he acted unreasonably?

Is America’s failure in Viet Nam proof that Nixon acted unreasonably?

President Bush seeks the safety and freedom of Americans and Iraqis. Nephi sought that “a nation should (not) dwindle and perish in unbelief.” Can you stop the “mighty Mississippi?” Can you stem the tide? Can you close the Red Sea? Can you tell me the difference?

Rumpole said...

Lysis,

As to access, I completely agree with you. Show me that Nephi had the ability and to procure the identical record that Laban had in his posession and the debate is over.

Under those circumstances all of Nephi's actions are greatly flawed.

However, if you can't demonstrate that ability, then I would suggest that my position is only strengthened.

Lysis said...

Rumpole:

First – pointing out a flaw in your logic is not a debate tacit; it is a desperate appeal to get you to answer the question – “What right did Nephi have to the plates?” Instead I get some kind my own words sent back at me and an attempt to equate George Bush; clearly justifiable attacks on mass murdering terrorists and Nephi’s family ambitions.

Important point - Bush killed Alzawahari, in battle, when Saddam was rendered helpless he was put on trial. Isn’t Justice and amazing thing!

I don’t recall Nixon claiming God made him any promises. Nixon defeated the North Vietnamese and Congress gave away the victory, just the way the Dems will do this time, given the chance.

President Bush indeed seeks the safety and freedom of the American people; he does it through just means – If there is any power greater than that of a flowing river, it is Justice.

Lysis said...

Rumpole:

How did Moses get the Ten Commandments – and all that other stuff? Couldn’t God have written out the book for Nephi with his finger on the wall? By the way, if the brass plates are the same as the Old Testament, which they seem to be if you take the “word for word” quotes from the book of Isaiah seriously, it seems that the brass plates weren’t the only source of info. available in Jerusalem. Now some of us might believe that the Bible wasn’t even written until the Babylonian captivity, but that doesn’t seem to be the story the B of M is presenting. Maybe Nephi and his bro’s could have used all that treasure to hire a scribe.

As I said long ago, couldn’t God have dropped off a copy of the King James version at Lehi’s tent along with the GPS?

Rumpole said...

Lysis,

We seem to be going over the same arguments again and again! If you remember, I asked: “Is God bound to fulfilling his will through miraculous means? Is He bound by using natural means that seem to us to be more sophisticated? Or is it a combination of those two means depending on the expediency of the argument?”

This previous question seems even more pertinent to our discussion now! If you remember, I asked that question to clarify your view on God’s use of a “process” (such as evolution) as a vehicle to accomplishing his end. I would agree with you that “God is not bound to do anything, but he is perfectly capable of an occasional miracle.”

Are you suggesting that due to the expediency of the argument God should have drummed a copy of the Brass Plates here for Nephi? Is this not contrary to what you have promoted in the case of evolution? As you ponder your answer, I hope you will consider that your position on evolution has not changed because of its purported delivery, it changed because of fraud and DNA evidence.

Additionally, why do you appeal to a source (the Bible) to back your claims when you believe that source is inherently flawed? Do you have the ability to pick and choose which “stories” you accept depending upon the expediency of the argument?

If we, as you post: “take the “word for word” quotes from the book of Isaiah seriously” the potential for the existence of other records does not prove that Nephi had access to them. It only demonstrates that other records existed.

You ask, could Nephi have used “all that treasure to hire a scribe?” Did laws exist that would allow Nephi that access? If those laws did exist, would hiring a scribe to copy the plates have not brought questions as to why? Was not Lehi guaranteed a land of promise? How could it be his if all knew and followed?

You post: As I said long ago, couldn’t God have dropped off a copy of the King James version at Lehi’s tent along with the GPS?”

Though you certainly have allowed for the occasional miracle, I ask again, is that miracle used depending upon the expediency of the argument? As the river current’s velocity increases downstream, as the undertow of the tide pulls out to sea, as the Red Sea closes on the Egyptians, are men able to choose when the “occasional miracle” will be employed?

Rumpole said...
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Rumpole said...

Lysis,

I missed your initial post.

I have answered your question. Nephi described his preemptive right to the plates in the Book of Mormon. I have quoted it on several occasions. It is no different than President Bush’s preemptive right to attack terrorism. It is no different than Nixon’s wise course in Viet Nam.

I have not promoted that God commanded Nixon to defeat the Vietnamese. I do not claim that President Bush was commanded by God to attack terrorism; what I will point out, however, is that God is smarter than Nephi. You are in agreement with God when you promote that the written word, the understanding of history that you so value in its application, is critical to the survival of any civilization.

Nephi was heading out of town without it; he and his followers needed it to be successful.

Further, you comment on “Nephi’s family’s ambitions?” Ambitions that would take them across an ocean to a land they didn’t know even existed?

You post: “Bush killed Alzawahari, in battle, when Saddam was rendered helpless he was put on trial. Isn’t Justice and amazing thing!”

Bush killed Alzawahari in battle, in a battle where he knew tactically exactly where Alzawarhari was. Why couldn’t he have sent the rangers in? Bush knew where Alzawahari was, and Alzawahari didn’t know that Bush knew. Is that not the definition of having your enemy “completely in your control?”

Lysis said...

Rumpole:

You chastise me for believing God SHOULD have used a miracle to help Nephi get the plates. (Giving him a copy of them or helping him to make a copy.) I chastise you for believing God SHOULD have acted contrary to his nature to help Nephi get the plates. (Requiring him to murder a helpless man who was under his control.) Let’s judge who is more reasonable.

In the case of Nixon and Bush, we are judging the nature of men and how they in their greatness but imperfection they remained true to their divine nature. In the case of Nephi we are asked to judge God Himself, in his perfection. He must remain true to his Devine nature.

Alzawahari was neither unarmed nor helpless, at the very least, he could have run away to kill again. Poor Laban was unconscious and helpless at Nephi’s feet. Had “Bush” caught Alzawahari in such a position he would have remained true to his nature, and to God’s. Please consider the fate of Saddam.

Rumpole said...

Lysis,

You post: “You chastise me for believing God SHOULD have used a miracle to help Nephi get the plates.”

I chastise you for no such thing! I chastise you for selecting the method for God that he chooses to use depending upon the expediency of your argument!

You post: “In the case of Nixon and Bush, we are judging the nature of men and how they in their greatness but imperfection they remained true to their divine nature. In the case of Nephi we are asked to judge God Himself, in his perfection. He must remain true to his Devine nature.”

As we ponder over God’s divine nature, consider the following:

Why was Joseph Smith required to translate the Book of Mormon manually? Wasn’t Joseph deserving of a pre-translated copy of Mormon’s plates?

Why was Alma the younger privy to the visitation of an angel? I’m certain you know many parents who have prayed just as hard for the welfare of their own wayward child and have received no such visitation for the youth.

Why did the Brother of Jared have to figure out a way to have his boats lighted? Couldn’t God just have provided light? When that light was provided, it was provided through apparently miraculous means. Why didn’t God just give the light to the Brother of Jared in the first place?

I posted: “Is God bound to fulfilling his will through miraculous means? Is He bound by using natural means that seem to us to be more sophisticated? Or is it a combination of those two means depending on the expediency of the argument?”

As we have discussed under the Bush Doctrine of Preemption, Nephi acted reasonably in his dealing with Laban. As to Nephi’s obtaining the plates, I accept that “a reasonable God would act reasonably”; however, I do not accept that either you or I have the ability to determine God’s rules of engagement.

Also, note that you have provided no proof as to the availability of an identical record.

As we have discussed, and as I have provided specifics for, God does not approach each situation with a cookie-cutter. If I may, then, God’s divine nature will not be defined by the expediency of an argument.

When you deal with issues with your students or with your camp staffers do you treat every situation the same? Do you use a cookie-cutter with an occasional miracle thrown in? Or do you consider each situation and act accordingly? Is that unreasonable?

As for Alzawahari, his lack of knowledge versus President Bush’s perfect knowledge constitutes the same level of control that Nephi exerted over Laban. Alzawahari was just as “drunk (metaphorically)” because of his lack of knowledge of the situation as was Laban. God would not have commanded Bush (i.e. David and Goliath) to wait until Alzawahari sobered up.

Lysis said...

Rumpole:

You say: “I chastise you for selecting the method for God that he chooses to use depending upon the expediency of your argument!”

I do not choose what God does based on my argument; I base my claim of what God would do based on what is reasonable. If it is wrong to kill a defenseless person in your control, it is always wrong to do so.

As for Joseph Smith; he could translate the Book of Mormon manually (Though I do believe he used the Urim and Thummim a rather miraculous little gadget that probably could have given Nephi a hand.) without committing any immoral or unreasonable act. If Joseph Smith would have had to murder people in order to get the Gold Plates, or to figure out what they said, it would have been unreasonable.

As for Alma the younger; I don’t know why God gave him special favors, but I do know he didn’t ask anyone to murder people in order to get Alma off the hook. I don’t know why but I do know no murders we demanded. Murder is wrong, God will not do wrong – wrong is against God’s nature. God’s nature is not my decision.

As for the brother of Jarred having to make the stones? I don’t know why, but I do know two things: God did miraculously light the rocks once they were made, and he didn’t ask Mohonri to murder anybody to get the juice, or to get some records to take with him to the new world.

You post: “Is God bound to fulfilling his will through miraculous means? Is He bound by using natural means that seem to us to be more sophisticated? Or is it a combination of those two means depending on the expediency of the argument?”

I answer; He isn’t bound to do any of the above, but he does do them all.

You can return to Bush all you want to; first, Bush is not God and two, if Bush murders people he will be wrong because he would be going against the nature of God which is good. Bush cannot justly go against the nature of God, and God will not go against His nature.

You post: “Also, note that you have provided no proof as to the availability of an identical record.” Let’s reason together, if the two books (book of Mormon references from the Bible and the Bible) are identical. Were did the Bible stuff come from? It must have been n around once the brass plats were gone – so logically that stuff must have been available at the time of Nephi, unless God created it whole cloth for the Jews. If he could have done that for the Jews, why not for the Nephites?
When I deal with my staffers or my students, I will tell you what, I will never murder any of them or anyone else, even to help them.

Your final post: “As for Alzawahari, his lack of knowledge versus President Bush’s perfect knowledge constitutes the same level of control that Nephi exerted over Laban. Alzawahari was just as “drunk (metaphorically)” because of his lack of knowledge of the situation as was Laban. God would not have commanded Bush (i.e. David and Goliath) to wait until Alzawahari sobered up.”

I do not agree. Alzawahari was an armed and slippery terrorist, his ignorance was his weakness but he was not helplessly and under Bushes control the way Saddam was. The Americans soldiers who killed Alzawahari and captured Saddam could tell the difference. I think you can too.

Rumpole said...

Lysis,

You post: “If it is wrong to kill a defenseless person in your control, it is always wrong to do so.”

You later add: “Alzawahari was an armed and slippery terrorist, his ignorance was his weakness but he was not helplessly and under Bushes control the way Saddam was.”

Our disagreement lies in the “Doctrine of Preemption.” President Bush justifiably entered the war on terror to save lives and to save freedom. Nephi justifiably left for the promised land to save lives and to gain freedom.

Further, I have said nothing of Saddam. What I have implied is that Laban was an armed and slippery combatant. Alzawahari was in the same control of Bush as was Laban of Nephi. If Azawahari had been drunk at the time of his impending death, would it have been President Bush’s moral duty to wait to strike? It is unreasonable. Nephi killed Laban with Laban’s own sword (Laban was armed); it would be foolish and unreasonable to believe that God would have Nephi wait for Laban to sober up.

You post: “As for Joseph Smith; he could translate the Book of Mormon manually (Though I do believe he used the Urim and Thummim a rather miraculous little gadget that probably could have given Nephi a hand.) without committing any immoral or unreasonable act.”

I agree that God will not act immorally or unreasonably. As I have pointed out above, in the case of Nephi and Laban, he didn’t.

You post: “You can return to Bush all you want to; first, Bush is not God and two, if Bush murders people he will be wrong because he would be going against the nature of God which is good.”

I want to return to President Bush. As we discussed initially, it is possible for God to use an “instrument” in the fulfilling of his will. President Bush has been the instrument in the current application of the Doctrine of Preemption. Nephi was that instrument in his time.

President Bush has acted morally and reasonably.

Nephi acted morally and reasonably.

As for access to the Bible stuff, your argument seems to me to be one of “half-full, half empty.” You have offered no evidence to me that there was, indeed, a similar record available for Nephi’s taking, you only offer speculation; further, I have suggested to you that faced with that evidence I would completely agree that everything Nephi did was wrong.

Naïve though it may be, until presented with such, my glass is “half-full” for Nephi, and as has been demonstrated, Nephi acted morally and reasonably.

Lysis said...
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Lysis said...

Rumpole:

Let’s remove all ambiguity on the Laban/Alzawahari hypothetical. (Let’s remove Saddam form the mix. I’m sorry to confuse with an actual example of Bush’s actions, let’s keep it hypothetical.) If Alzawahari had been found laid out on the streets of Baghdad drunk, unconscious, and holding an AK 47 in his hands, and a U.S. Marine had shot him through the head, (even if that Marine did it with Alzawahari’s own gun) that Marine would not be following the direction of his Commander-in-Chief or a reasonable God. Even an armed and slippery combatant like Alzawahari cannot be killed in cold blood once his is under the control of a just and reasonable adversary. Alzawahari was not in the same position as Laban, and if you put him hypothetically there – even you will have to admit that his murder would have been unjust. It is not reasonable for God to command anything that is unjust.

You didn’t equate Nephi’s murder of Laban to Joseph Smith’s use of the miraculous translation of he B of M by use of the Urim and Thummim. If Joseph Smith would have murdered a helpless drunk to get the golden plats you might have a parallel, but he did not, so you have failed to make the link.

I do not disagree with your assertion that God is using George Bush to defend the world of reason against the threat of religious fanaticism. But George Bush cannot use unreasonable means to defend it and remain just in his actions.

I did give you very reasonable evidence that other copies of the brass plates did exist in Jerusalem. Answer this question and you will have my evidence. If Nephi the brass plats, which was the record of the Jews, out of Jerusalem after he killed Laban, how is it that all those things, including the word-for-word King James Version of them, come to be in the Bible that was written down completely independently of Nephi?

You can shout and shout that Nephi acted morally and reasonable but you have to prove it logically. I’m still waiting.

Cameron said...

I am intrigued by the Zarqawi and Laban comparison. Since we knew where Zarqawi was, and we had troops in the area, should we not have tried to capture him rather than just blowing up the place? What was the reason for that?

Lysis said...

Cameron:

The REASON was simple. Alzawahari was neither drunk, unconscious, helpless, nor in the power of the U. S. troops. To see the contrast in how Americans really acts when they have someone truly under their control, note how they dealt with Saddam. I know Rumpole never got this one – but I’m sure you can see the connecting.

Answer the same question I asked Rumple: if we found a terrorist laid out drunk and helpless with his AK47 in his hand, would it be just to take that gun and blow his brains out? Or would it be reasonable and requisite to take him into custody?

Cameron said...

I do indeed see your point, Lysis. At first glance, I agree wholeheartedly that it would be reasonable to take the terrorist in question into custody. But can we think of no exceptions to that scenario?

Going back to Zarqawi though, why didn't we take him into custody rather than blowing him up? Do you fail to see how helpless he was in that situation? It was quite unfair to him. Because of his lack of knowledge, he might as well have been drunk at our feet. He was just as helpless as Laban was.

Lysis said...

No he wasn’t, in fact he almost got away; as did bin Laden when Clinton hesitated. He could have run, he could have jumped down his bomb shelter, he could have taken hostages, he was perfectly capable of fighting back, that is not the same as Saddam’s situation, or as Laban’s. I think you see that, but if you don’t, I can’t help you.

Besides, God can even do more than the USMC.

Cameron said...

If he could have done all those things, why didn't he?

Lysis said...
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Lysis said...

Cameron

Some more thoughts:

1. Bin Laden got away from “Bush” even when he, Bush, didn’t let up at Tora Bora.

2. Do you remember that Alzawahari wasn’t quite dead when the U.S. troops arrived on the scene? He lay there helpless and wounded, long enough so that when he died he knew who got him. If when they found Alzawahari wounded and truly helpless the U. S. troops would have killed him in his helpless state, rather than doing as they did, all possible to help him, they would NOT have behaved according to the actions that a reasonable God would expect.

3. As to why God did not act in some other way to save Laban or to provide Nephi with the plates? I don’t know. This I do know. Killing a helpless man in cold blood, the way Nephi describes his murder of Laban, is not something a reasonable God would condone. Therefore, while I don’t know why He didn’t do what He could have done, I do know He wouldn’t do what He wouldn’t have done.

Lysis said...
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Lysis said...

As for why Alzawahari didn’t do the things I suggested. I suggest he was killed before he could have done what he surely would have if he hadn’t been killed.

Rumpole said...

Lysis,

We must disagree. It seems that you believe a reasonable God would not deliver an enemy to destruction. I believe that a reasonable God has done so on more than one occasion.

Alzawahari was in the same position as Laban; his lack of knowledge of his impending doom rendered him just as drunk as Laban.

I do not pretend to know exactly what Alzawahari was doing at the time of his destruction. He could have been having dinner, reading a book, watching SportsCenter, or brushing up on his propaganda skills by tuning into CNN. When confirmation occurred that Alzawahari was “in the building”, when the button to send the missile was pushed, Alzawahari, by your standard, was “killed in cold blood . . . under the control of a just and reasonable adversary.” The military wasn't guessing when the volley was sent; the military didn’t shoot to injure. We should consider ourselves fortunate that God delivered our enemy into our hands.

What opportunity did Alzawahari have to face his accusers? The purpose of “justice” is just that, is it not? Alzawahari never had the chance to call on Richard Clark to defend him. But it could have happened! That marine could have put the safety back on the AK47 and taken Alzawahari into custody, just as you have suggested that Alzawahari would have been handled had he been rendered incapacitated in the street. As you posted to Cameron, “I know Rumpole never got this one.”

President Bush did, and he got it right. The button was pushed!

I would suggest to you, as I have suggested before, that the justification of the act lies in the Doctrine of Preemption, as we have already discussed. If not, if it is unjust and unreasonable to destroy demonstrated enemies based on "potential", President Bush is guilty of the same “crime” that you judge Nephi to be.

As to duplicate records, as I have asserted all along, the issue is also one of access. Did Nephi have access to those other records? Were they more or less readily available to him? If Nephi did have access to those other records under more favorable circumstances, case closed, you are right. Nephi shouldn’t have acted the way he did.

Laban had his “set” of the plates under lock and key. Is it unreasonable to believe that similar “sets” of the plates were not guarded with equal or greater security?

You post: “Alzawahari was not in the same position as Laban, and if you put him hypothetically there – even you will have to admit that his murder would have been unjust. It is not reasonable for God to command anything that is unjust.”

I’m saddened that you take the position our Commander-In-Chief has acted unjustly. Per the Doctrine of Preemption, laid forth by President Bush himself, I don’t hold the same view, and I will continue to “shout” in support of him.

Lysis said...

Rumpole:

I have nothing against the idea that God would deliver anyone to destruction, that seems to me to be one of God’s jobs. What I cannot accept is that a reasonable God would ask someone to sin. I don’t buy the “murder is OK if you need the plates for your kids education”, and I don’t buy that “human sacrifice is OK if your really special”. Thus I challenge the legitimacy of at least two stories in the scripture: Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac and Nephi’s murder of Laban. There are plenty of other wrong doings in the scripture many by prophets, but these incidents seem to me to be the two were God Himself is “commanding” something He abhors. That is not reasonable, and a reasonable God would not do it. God didn’t even command the crucifixion of Christ – man had to come up with that atrocity on his own, in spite of its necessity in the “plan of salvation”.

Let me ask you two specific questions:

If a U.S. Marine had found Alzawahari drunk and unconscious in the streets of Baghdad and taken Alzawahari’s own AK 47 and killed Alzawahari, would that Marine be a murderer?

Did the Iraqi and Coalition troops, who finally did “get” Alzawahari, have him in their power and then while holding him helpless and secure, debate his fate and decide to kill him?


In my opinion you are playing a dangerous game of line smearing. If you equate killing a prisoner in one’s control to bombing an enemy on the field of battle you have jumped over the “slippery slope”. What is to prevent your doctrine of preemptive execution from justifying the murders committed by terrorists? Surely they (bin Laden and company) will argue that the only way they can get at America is to murder defenseless people. Say saw their heads off on TV. After all American troops are just too hard to kill. You are actually saying that bin Laden could rationalize that since Bush kills by surprise with bombs, his terrorists are justified as well. Thus bin Laden was simply striking preemptively when he murdered on 9/11. After all he had complete knowledge of what was going on, the American people were just like Laban, thus George Bush would have approved. (This is you twisted logic taken through its turns.)

George Bush would not allow the fudging of the line you have smeared over. He insists his troops in the field and his guards in the prison recognize the difference between enemies engaged on the field and ones under one’s control. The U.S. does not torture or kill the terrorists under our control. Once they have been rendered helpless we control them, but we do not murder them; and that is one reason why we are just and they are not.

I do not know how the writers of the Bible got the information found in the Bible – but I do know there is no record of their murdering the “keepers” of the books in order to get them. If they did, they are just as guilty as Nephi.

Rumpole said...

Lysis,

I apologize I have been slow to answer. The week has been incredibly busy. I hope you will accept my humble apologies.

To continue our disscussion:

You suggest that in Nephi’s actions “God is commanding something he abhors.” Then you suggest that President Bush’s actions against Alzawahari were perfectly reasonable. I agree that President Bush acted reasonably when Alzawarhari was killed. Alzawahari’s death, coupled with the preemptive action President Bush has taken in Iraq has saved countless lives.

It seems to me that a fundamental point of disagreement we have is whether or not Nephi’s actions are similar. I believe they are. Countless souls did not “dwindle and perish in unbelief” because of Nephi’s actions. Do all American’s believe the prudent action was to go to Iraq? Will America be safe from terrorism 200 years from now? If America is not safe from terrorism, will it be President Bush’s fault?

You ask: If a U.S. Marine had found Alzawahari drunk and unconscious in the streets of Baghdad and taken Alzawahari’s own AK 47 and killed Alzawahari, would that Marine be a murderer?

My answer: If Goliath had been drunk would God have told David to postpone the battle and reschedule for another day?

If the intelligence on Alzawahari suggested that he was drunk and unconscious in his meeting place, would we have called off the missile strike?

You ask: Did the Iraqi and Coalition troops, who finally did “get” Alzawahari, have him in their power and then while holding him helpless and secure, debate his fate and decide to kill him?

I was not there, but I will honestly answer what I think. It seems to be the decision had already been made as to Alzawahari’s fate. Do I honestly believe that there had been discussion at some point on how to handle such a situation when it presented itself? Certainly. Would that make President Bush’s action worse? Was it premeditated, as opposed to Nephi, who had the debate within himself only when he was presented with the deliverance of his enemy into his hands?

What prevents President Bush’s Doctrine of Preemption being used to justify the actions of terrorists? What were those who were murdered on 9/11 guilty of? Were they a threat to the terrorist’s religion, to their government, to their existence?

Why did President Bush preemptively strike? He acted the way he did to save lives and to protect freedom. Nephi’s objective was to save souls. Are not both motivations equally noble?

Are there not rights and freedoms that are worth fighting, sacrificing, and even dying for?

I am not “actually saying”, as you suggest, that bin Ladan “could rationalize that since Bush kills by surprise with bombs, his terrorists are justified as well.” Do you really think it could be rationalized that the American people are just like Laban?

Is it just to impose religion, to rob freedom, and to thirst for complete domination? Is that what Nephi was trying to do? Is that what the American people are trying to do?

Nephi was on the side of truth. President Bush is on the side of truth.

Per your previous posting I understood that we were judging God in this discussion. Are we now judging Nephi? Isn’t that the bridge we cross when you suggest that bin Laden could rationalize a position?

Bin Laden has never been on the side of truth.

It is interesting to note here that in many wars through history each side has claimed to have God firmly with them. Does God go to war for both sides? It would be unreasonable! It would seem to me, then, expedient to be on the side of truth, for that is God’s side.

Lysis said...

Rumpole;

Please consider these points:

Your argument that “preemption brings better life to countless Nephites”, or indeed, Americans is simply an “end justifies the mean” justification of murder.

Neither Bush nor any of his warriors would be justified in intentionally killing any defenseless person in their power. You attempt to dodge the question about the Marine killing a drunken Alzawahari by brining in Goliath won’t’ cut it; for if David had found Goliath lying drunk and unconscious and killed him, he too would have been guilty of murder. Goliath, as you will recall, was charging down on David, armed to the teeth and having promised to feed David’s flesh to the birds. David struck out in self defense, had Goliath been drunk it would not have mattered, but if he had been under David’s control it would have made a difference. And don’t try the “why did he cut Goliath’s head off” argument – Goliath was already dead of stone sunk in head syndrome– the decapitation was for effect.

As to U.S. troops knowing that Alzawahari was drunk – would they have been justified in dropping the surprise bombs – yes they would have been, but if he had been under their control, unconscious had helpless and in their hands, then they could not have justly picked up his AK 47 and shot him. That our soldiers are capable of making this distinction, I will once more offer the historic fact of the arrest, not murder, of Saddam. Once the solider had Saddam, hands up, our American hero had the ability to choose the fate of Saddam, he chose wisely. Once you are in a position to choose you must choose rationally if you follow a reasonable God.

I don’t believe God is on both sides in any conflict. He may be on neither, but he can never be on the side that rationalizes murder in the name of expedience, or violates reason because of some “ends justifies the means” claim. Fortunately we do not have to rely on faith to determine who is right and who is wrong in the war against bin Laden. The United States acted, and continues to act, justly and reasonably in defense of freedom. Osama continues to act unreasonably and unjustly in pursuit of world wide domination and to achieve his goal of forcing his “faith” on us all. This is not reasonable, and thus we can recognize who is right and who is wrong. We can do the same in the case of Nephi, Laban, and Zoram.

Rumpole said...

Lysis,

You post: “preemption brings better life to countless Nephites”, or indeed, Americans is simply an “end justifies the mean” justification of murder.”

So then President Bush has used an “end justifies the means” approach?

You have posted “I have nothing against the idea that God would deliver anyone to destruction, that seems to me to be one of God’s jobs.”

But apparently you believe that God would only deliver an enemy on the field of battle, as David was “(striking) out in self-defense”? You imply that God would not allow his instrument to take advantage of his enemy’s weakness?

I guess David must have also been wrong then, for he struck Goliath’s only unprotected appendage when he dropped Goliath with the stone, thereby attacking Goliath's only weakness! Will you suggest that David's superior strategy and weaponry were only a function of the battlefield?

I cannot accept that a reasonable God would not encourage his instrument to take advantage of an adversary’s weakness; further, I cannot accept that a reasonable God would require use of that advantage only in face to face combat. Have you forgotten that Laban was first to seek to destroy Nephi? You then suggest that it was prudent for Nephi to wait until his enemy was sober? It does not seem reasonable to me.

Goliath left his forehead unprotected. Was that any less of an error in judgement than Laban’s self-imposed inebriation? Did not David’s ability with a sling and a stone render Goliath completely in David’s control? As David faced Goliath from a distance, was he ever in any real danger? By your reckoning, the only way the fight between David and Goliath could have been a just battle would have been to have Goliath’s range equal to David’s. It seems it didn’t happen that way.

You post: “As to U.S. troops knowing that Alzawahari was drunk – would they have been justified in dropping the surprise bombs – yes they would have been, but if he had been under their control, unconscious had helpless and in their hands, then they could not have justly picked up his AK 47 and shot him.”

Do you suggest that the only difference, then, is whose weapon is used?

There is no difference in control if you stand face-to-face with you enemy or if you are miles away; in either case if you have the means of destruction in hand, what difference does it make who’s weapon you are using? How is your adversary under any sort of diminished control?

Alzawahari was killed justly in self-defense for those who could not defend themselves. Laban was killed equally justly in self-defense for those who could not defend themselves.

As to your suggestion that I have dodged your question, I have done nothing of the sort. I have provided you with circumstances that answer the question; I cannot control your distaste for the answer.

We do agree in that it is clear who is wrong in our current conflict. We disagree, however, when considering Nephi and Laban. A reasonable God directed Nephi to act reasonably, just as our present Commander-in-Chief has acted reasonably.

Lysis said...

Rumpole;

You claim that I intimated that President Bush was using the ends justifies the means paradigm. You know this is not what I have said; I have said over and over again that if President Bush or his soldiers acted like Nephi, they too would be murderers. The death of Alzawahari and the capture of Saddam demonstrate that the United States uses just means to acquire just ends and is capable of telling the difference.

As for “God’s delivering people to destruction” – God dose have infinite means to do this, but He will never choose to do an unjust or unreasonable act, in other words – God will never command his followers to murder in his name.

God can help his servants to capitalize on the weaknesses of the enemies of justice, but God will not go past the advantage of delivering them helpless to the sword and then ordering their slaughter without trial or REASON.

I am sorry that you cannot distinguish between weakness and helplessness. In approaching a weak enemy there is always a danger, Goliath found that out, but in killing a helpless one there is never justice.


You post:

“You post: “As to U.S. troops knowing that Alzawahari was drunk – would they have been justified in dropping the surprise bombs – yes they would have been, but if he had been under their control, unconscious had helpless and in their hands, then they could not have justly picked up his AK 47 and shot him.”

Do you suggest that the only difference, then, is whose weapon is used?”

My answer _ Of course not, (and I know you have trouble getting this, but I will not give up.) If the U.S. troops had Alzawahari under their control, unconscious and helpless they would be just as much murderers if they called in an air strike on him. During WWII the Japanese often used American and Chinese prisoners as “Maruta” of test logs. They would attach them to posts at varying distances from the detonation point of bombs and then detonate those bombs. The Japanese who did this were murderers, just like Nephi. The key point here is not the distance away, but the condition of the person to be killed. Alzawahari was not under U.S. control, nor was he helpless at the time he was killed. Laban was. The difference is simply that.

You have and continue to dodge both my questions.

“If a U.S. Marine had found Alzawahari drunk and unconscious in the streets of Baghdad and taken Alzawahari’s own AK 47 and killed Alzawahari, would that Marine be a murderer?

Did the Iraqi and Coalition troops, who finally did “get” Alzawahari, have him in their power and then while holding him helpless and secure, debate his fate and decide to kill him?”

I recall the University you attended; so I will provide a multiple choice test for you. It is not the best way to get at an answer, but as you seem to be incapable of saying yes or no on your own. . .

1. If a U.S. Marine had found Alzawahari drunk and unconscious in the streets of Baghdad and taken Alzawahari’s own AK 47 and killed Alzawahari, would that Marine be a murderer?

a) Yes

b) No

2. Did the Iraqi and Coalition troops, who finally did “get” Alzawahari, have him in their power and then while holding him HELPLESS and SECURE, debate his fate and decide to kill him?

a) Yes

b) No

I cannot agree with you in your final statement, that, “A reasonable God directed Nephi to act reasonably, just as our present Commander-in-Chief has acted reasonably.” President Bush would never allow his soldiers to get away with killing, even the worst of our enemies, once they were helpless and under our control. I have even gone so far as to provide empirical proof in the case of Saddam; you might also consider U.S. soldiers on trial, and some convicted, of murder for following Nephi’s example. They are justly under scrutiny. I am sure if George Bush were Nephi’s commander-in-chief he would have had Nephi arrested and any rationalization attempting to equate bombings and battle collateral to cold blooded murder would fail to sway a reasonable court.

Rumpole said...

Lysis,

I made no claim as your intimations about President Bush! I asked a question; I asked you a legitimate question as to President Bush’s motives based on his parallel actions to the model of preemption that Nephi has provided. The university I attended not only excelled in multiple choice tests, it also focused on reading comprehension!

As to weakness versus helpless, I am sorry you have difficulty distinguishing the two. A man is rendered helpless because of his own self-defeating behavior, behavior that he alone initiated? Behavior that he voluntarily partook of? Behavior that he knew the outcome of? You really are starting to sound like a liberal!

As to your questions, I have never dodged them. At the risk of being redundant, you ought to focus more on reading comprehension. Be that as it may, by way of additional response, I offer to you the following:

I note that source for this information comes from “Legal Perspectives on the Slaying of Laban,” written by John W. Welch

Was Nephi guilty of murder? No. Nephi lived under the constraints of the law of Moses. According to that law (Exodus 21: 12-14):

“He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall surely be put to death. And if a man lie not in wait, but God deliver him into his hand, then I will appoint thee a place whither he shall flee. But if a man come presumptuously upon his neighbor, to slay him with guile; thou shalt take him from mine alter, that he may die."

Nephi did not lie in wait. He reentered Jerusalem, “not knowing beforehand the things which (he) should do.” God delivered Laban into Nephi’s hand, as Laban “had fallen to the earth before (him).” Nephi did not come upon Laban presumptuously. The murder was not premeditated, as Nephi came (repeating) “not knowing beforehand the things which (he) should do.” After the act, Nephi retired to the appointed “place whither he should flee.”

Additionally, read Numbers 15:28 with the Greek (your favorite) translation applied:

“And the priest shall make an atonement for the soul that sinneth ignorantly, when he sinneth by ignorance before the Lord, to make an atonement for him; and it shall be forgiven him."

From W. F. R. Hardie, Aristotle’s Ethical Theory (Oxford: Clarendon, 1968, 153):

“. . . based on an examination of the Hebrew terminology, is confirmed on other grounds by the Greek word that was used in the Septuagint to translate shega¯ga¯h in Numbers 15:28. The Greek word is akousios, a contracted form of aekousios, literally meaning “unwillingly.” Its root is hekousios, from heko¯n, denoting action that is “voluntary, willing, acting of free will,” within one’s control; and thus its opposite, akousios, is action that is “against the will, con-strained,” “intended but not desired.” W. F. R. Hardie, Aristotle’s Ethical Theory (Oxford: Clarendon,1968), 153.

Nephi “shrunk and would that (he) might not slay him.” He committed an act that was “intended but not desired,” again falling in compliance with the law of Moses.

I recognize the disdain you hold for the bible. How about the Talmud?

“In the Talmud, unpremeditated homicide was eventually subdivided into five categories: negligent, accidental, nearly avoidable, under duress, or justifiable. For purposes of comparison with Nephi’s case, justifiable killings included (1) those that prevented one man from killing another (and by analogy, Nephi’s slaying of Laban prevented him from causing Lehi’s people to perish spiritually) and (2) surrendering a specific named individual to be killed when heathens threaten to kill a whole group unless that one is delivered up.” (Elon, Principles of Jewish Law. 476.)

Nephi killed Laban because it was “better that one man should perish than a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief.”

Is it not reasonable that God would follow His own law? Was God’s own law unreasonable? I suppose you may argue that this is another portion of the bible that is “made up.” Perhaps you are correct. Nephi, however, doesn’t agree with you. Perhaps that is his mistake, his character flaw. In my estimation, that is where the argument reaches its apex; accept that Nephi acted within God’s law, or promote that God’s law, according to the Bible, is made-up.

What say you?

Lysis said...

Rumpole:

Well you have succeeded in railing on for “pages” and never answered either of the questions above. As you noted, I have a reading comprehension problem, so just give me an a) or b) to my two questions

You say:

“As to weakness versus helpless, I am sorry you have difficulty distinguishing the two. A man is rendered helpless because of his own self-defeating behavior, behavior that he alone initiated? Behavior that he voluntarily partook of? Behavior that he knew the outcome of? You really are starting to sound like a liberal!”

So now your claiming that it was alright to kill Laban because he choose to get drunk. Does this apply all drunks, or just drunks you intend to rob?

John Welch is a Mormon apologist – no doubt you find comfort in his book.

Now for excusing Nephi based on the Law of Moses. First you misinterpret the Law of Moses. Acording to your interpretation of the Law, the only way a person can be guilty of murder is if the “lie in wait”. In other words if I get on my explosive belt and deliberately walk into your daughter’s wedding and kill a few dozen people I am innocent because, by golly, I sure as heck didn’t lie in wait.

Nephi did not kill Laban in ignorance, he sat down and intentionally, after thinking about it for some time, pulled out the guy’s own sword and butchered him. That is not sinning ignorantly, it was no mistake.

As for your Greek language lesson; arriving at an “it’s OK to kill someone if you INTEND to kill someone but don’t desire it”. Wait a minuet: I think that intentionally killing someone means you INTENDED to do it. Quit playing word games, and answer the questions.

As for the Talmud, you could not justify Nephi’s murdering Laban without sticking in a parenthetical "(and by analogy, Nephi’s slaying of Laban prevented him form causing Lehi’s people to perish spiritually)" and attempting to equate "teaching people heresies" to murder. This was the very logic that led the Inquisition to murder nine million “heretics” in the 15 and 16 hundreds. I refer you back to the wise words of the Pope – a reasonable God will not act unreasonably. The Pope would readily admit the crimes of the inquisition; the Mormons must now honestly admit the crimes of Nephi.

Now we come to the crux:

Is the Law of Moses the Law of a just God? No! Below are just a few of the excuses the Law of Moses presents for killing people.

Murder (Exodus 21:12-14; Numbers 35:30),

incest (Leviticus 20:11,12),

sodomy (Leviticus 20:13),

bestiality (Leviticus 20:15,16),

disrespect to parents (Leviticus 20:9),

blasphemy (Leviticus 24:16),

false prophecy (Deuteronomy 13:1-5),

gluttony and drunkenness (Deuteronomy 21:18-21),

kidnapping (Deuteronomy 24:7),

eating leavened bread at the feast of unleavened bread (Exodus 12:15-17),

making or using the sacred oil for anointing (Exodus 30:23-33),

making or using the holy perfume (Exodus 30:34-38),

eating the sacrifices of peace offerings, being unclean (Leviticus 17:10-14),

uncovering the nakedness of near kin (Leviticus 18:6-18,29),

eating the sacrifices of peace offerings on the third day (Leviticus 19:5-8),

uncovering the nakedness of a woman with her sickness upon her (Leviticus 20:18),

refusing to be afflicted and doing work on the day of atonement (Leviticus 23:27-30),

neglecting to keep the Passover (Numbers 9:13).

kidnapping (Deuteronomy 24:7),

As I abhor capital punishment; I must find all of these unreasonable, but please consider these 1) disrespecting ones parents, 2) blasphemy 3) false prophesy 4) Gluttony and drunkenness (I guess you have Nephi covered here. Now are you headed out to the nearest bar to carry out the will of God?) 5) eating leavened bead 6) making perfume 7) eating sacrifices of peace offerings, 8) uncovering the nakedness of a woman with her sickness upon her. All of these are ridiculous!

The fact remains that we have a way of examining any teaching weather in “sacred” or secular writing. Call it the “light of Christ” call it divine Reason but we can know that a just God would not behave unjustly.

Rumpole said...

Lysis,

You post: “Well you have succeeded in railing on for “pages” and never answered either of the questions above. As you noted, I have a reading comprehension problem, so just give me an a) or b) to my two questions.”

I have repeatedly answered your questions. At this point, I guess you will have to go back to the archives for the answers.

I have never suggested that killing Laban was justified because he was drunk. I have suggested that Laban’s drunkenness was not a reason not to kill him. If you need more clarification, go back to the archives.

Do you call every source that disagrees with you an “apologist” as to the particular disagreement? It seems to be a pretty convenient way to dismiss a difference of opinion!

As to my “misinterpretation of the law of Moses”, I have done no such thing. Where in “my interpretation”, where in the biblical references that you have been given, is it stated that the only way a person can be guilty of murder is that the person “lie in wait”?

The reference clearly delineates the conditions (non-premeditation, without guile, delivering of the enemy into his hands) of an intended but not desired act, which Nephi met all. It goes no further. You complaint is not with me, it lies is with the law of Moses police. You will have to talk to them.

In your analogy of the explosive belt at my daughters wedding, you would be guilty. The belt proves premeditation.

You imply that I believe Nephi killed Laban in ignorance. I have never suggested nor implied that Nephi killed Laban in ignorance. Nephi’s action was “intended, not desired.” Further, as the debate that Nephi had with himself demonstrates, it was not premeditated.

You post: “As for your Greek language lesson; arriving at an “it’s OK to kill someone if you INTEND to kill someone but don’t desire it. Wait a minuet: I think that intentionally killing someone means you INTENDED to do it. Quit playing word games, and answer the questions.”

I’m sorry you feel that the Greeks play word games. I have often seen you appeal to Greek text to point out the flaws of the bible. I guess the Greeks had the foreknowledge to be Nephi “apologists”, as well as John Welch. Pretty convenient.

As to the Talmud, I acknowledge the analogy you present. I never tried to disguise it. My reason and my faith tell me that God values the destruction of a soul as highly as he regards the destruction of a body. Your reason and faith may direct you to believe otherwise.

As to the “crux”, the law of Moses: I have suggested to you that Nephi’s actions hinge on support of the law of Moses. I haven’t claimed the law of Moses as recorded in the Bible to be just, wise, well-intentioned, or intelligent. I have suggested that it could be a part of ancient biblical record that was “made-up” rather than from being sent from God.

You suggest, when referring to specifics in the law of Moses, that “All of these are ridiculous!” I can understand what draws you to that conclusion. It seems reasonable.
It is what this discussion hangs on. Let your reason and your faith direct you.

Lysis said...

Rumpole:

I have gone back to the archives and fetched out my questions, on careful reading of your posts I cannot find where you answered them. Prove my problem and fetch forward your answers, or if not – humor me and answer them again.

“1. If a U.S. Marine had found Alzawahari drunk and unconscious in the streets of Baghdad and taken Alzawahari’s own AK 47 and killed Alzawahari, would that Marine be a murderer?

a) Yes

b) No

2. Did the Iraqi and Coalition troops, who finally did “get” Alzawahari, have him in their power and then while holding him HELPLESS and SECURE, debate his fate and decide to kill him?

a) Yes

b) No”

Note: Being an apologist is not necessarily a bad thing – but the way your newfound hero tries to twist logic to fit his needed explanation of Nephi’s sin is egregious. If I were Nephi I would prefer a more rational defense.

As for the ‘lie in wait defense” you proffer; what if I happened on your daughters marriage party and picked up the punch bowl and did in the reception line. I guess I would not be a murderer – I did not lie in wait, and surly God delivered you all into my hands. At least that’s what I’ll plead in Moses court.

It is not the Greek language that I have trouble with it is Welch’s twisting of Hardie’s definition to exonerate Nephi, apologize for his sin, with which I disagree.

I agree with you in dumping the Talmud.

I am also perfectly willing to dump the Law of Moses – Jesus did! It obviously could not have been sent by a reasonable God, and that is the only kind I believe in.

Rumpole said...

Lysis,

I have answered your questions over and over again. If you enjoy posting them, please, post them again. My answers remain the same. Revist the archives.

Welch has become my newfound hero? On the contrary, I read authors like Welch only in a search for truth. Do you chose an author presumptuously, rather than reading his opinion?

As to your attack on Welch's use of Hardie as a source, reread Welch's article. Welch did not twist Hardie's words. He directly quoted Hardie. "Intended, but not desired" were Hardie's word's, not Welch's. Will Hardie now become some sort of "apologist?"

As to your new version of my daughter's wedding crasher, are you going to try to keep coming up with an example that works? Sorry, but I don't think you'll ever have the opportunity to plead in Moses' court.

Where have I "dumped" the Talmud? I have suggested that "My reason and my faith tell me that God values the destruction of a soul as highly as he regards the destruction of a body."

I have additionaly offered to you that "your reason and faith may direct you to believe otherwise."

If you want to disreguard the Talmud, so be it.

Finally, I understand your willingness to dump the law of Moses. There is certainly reason to question it's validity. Reason and faith ought to direct all those who read and consider it's veracity.

Lysis said...

Rumpole;

Okay, I have found your answers to the FIRST question:

“1. If a U.S. Marine had found Alzawahari drunk and unconscious in the streets of Baghdad and taken Alzawahari’s own AK 47 and killed Alzawahari, would that Marine be a murderer?

No – Because the Law of Moses allows us to kill anyone we don’t lie in wait for.

As to the SECOND question:

2. Did the Iraqi and Coalition troops, who finally did “get” Alzawahari, have him in their power and then while holding him HELPLESS and SECURE, debate his fate and decide to kill him?

You have not answered it anywhere. It is a specific question and requires a specific answer. I understand you unwillingness to answer it, as it would destroy you carefully constructed analogy to the Law of Moses, but refusing to answer simply proves the weakness of your position.

As to your Law of Moses justification for murder; I disagree with you. First the Law of Moses does not say what you have misconstrued it to say, and secondly the Law of Moses – being unreasonable is not applicable to any one who would live by reason, and cannot possibly be a a Law that a reasonable God would give or obey.

I agree with you that the destruction of the soul and the body could well be of equal evil and therefore maintain that a reasonable God would not command his servant to destroy one or the other if there were another way to justly deal with either.

As for disregarding the Talmud, so be it!

I agree with you that the validity of the Law of Moses is questionable. Having questioned it under the light of reason and according to my faith I have considered its “veracity” and found it inconsistent with the will of a Reasonable God.

Nephi never claimed the Law of Moses as his alibi; his “lawyers” did that. They are as wrong in their claim as Nephi was in his act.
I