Episode 75: Ether 4-7

April 13, 2015


Click to Listen: Episode 75: Ether 4-7

This one starts out with a bunch of Moroni preaching, but we soon get back to the action. First, we have the precarious (and likely pretty disgusting) ocean submarine voyage. Next we get some new family drama! Brother against brother, father against son, cousins killing each other, what else could you ask for?

“Drink” Count – 34

Close to six beers


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17 Comments on “Episode 75: Ether 4-7”

  1. Scott Says:

    So we finally get to the infamous ocean voyage of the Jaradite barges. David, you did a great job of pointing out many of the logistical problems such a voyage would cause. You did mention however that you were certain there are some problems you’ve overlooked. Here is a brilliant essay that covers many of the problems you would expect with such a voyage: http://packham.n4m.org/ships.htm
    Also, here’s an interesting apologetic explanation for why there was a hole in the bottom of the vessel: http://m.youtube.com/?#/watch?v=7D0gSiw17lU
    And David, I’m glad you enjoyed the Liahona I sent you. And from what you said at the end of this episode, it sounds like you also got the other thing I had sent to your door. 🙂


  2. Duke of Earl Grey Says:

    Wow! I loved that story of the missionaries coming to your house. It would be amazing if you got those guys to record an episode with you. It would be a riot to hear them read with you. However, I’m going to express some unfortunate pessimism about the prospect. It’s quite likely, if they feel ambiguous about whether they should do it or not, they’ll pass it up their missionary hierarchy for approval. Every missionary is assigned to a “mission”, a designated geographic boundary, run by a Mission President, who is a middle-aged or older man with a lot of experience in the church. This guy keeps tabs on about 200 missionaries, and if a weird situation comes up, the missionaries with often give him a call to ask what they should do. While some of these mission presidents are really nice guys, I would bet most of them, if they looked into your podcast and knew the tenor of it, would instruct their missionaries not to get involved. But we’ll see.

    I was also really excited to hear, at the top of the show, a voicemail sent in by my brother Scott. He told me he had sent David Michael a Liahona, so it wasn’t a surprise, but it was cool to hear him on the podcast anyway, and delightful to experience David Michael’s reaction. Remember, the magic of the brass ball only works in accordance to the diligence with which you hearken unto the words of the Lord…

    There are just a couple notable things about chapters 4 and 5. First, chapter 5 is basically just a set of instructions for Joseph Smith, telling him he can show the plates to three witnesses, indeed the very witnesses we met in the first episode. But also, Moroni gives a cryptic instruction, that a certain portion of the plates is “sealed up”, and he says Joseph Smith should not touch them. They were not to be translated, at least until God should give further instructions. This portion contained all the cool things the Lord showed to the Brother of Jared, and Moroni wrote them, but the Gentiles can’t have them until they exercise faith even as the Brother of Jared did.

    This trove of hidden doctrinal secrets, which we’re not good enough to have yet, is now referred to as the “Sealed Portion” of the Book of Mormon. Years later, David Whitmer of the Three Witnesses said that about half of the golden plates had been bound together, sealed in this fashion. Later he said it was two-thirds of the plates that had been so sealed. (Gee, I hate to say it, but this guy seems like an unreliable witness, maybe?)

    Faithful Mormons anxiously await the day when the Lord will tell Thomas Monson, or maybe the next guy, or maybe the next guy, that the time has come, that the sealed up words may now be translated, and scripture study will be exciting again for at least a few months, before it goes back to being mind-numbingly repetitive again.

    But the problem with making prophecies is that you always get nuts and/or conmen who want to be the ones to fulfill those prophecies. (“If Joseph Smith could pull it off, why not little old me?”) Just google the phrase “Sealed Portion” to see for yourself all the different texts we have whose authors claimed they translated the sealed portion. Probably the most famous of this bunch is Christopher Nemelka, who also claimed to be the reincarnation of Joseph Smith’s brother, Hyrum Smith. He apparently got quite a following for himself, including a descendent of Hyrum Smith, who let him put up a tacky headstone in the Smith family plot at the Salt Lake Cemetery, even though he’s not dead yet:


  3. Clint Kimball Says:

    Oh my sweet mother of evolution, I can’t wait to get those missionaries on the show!

    This is the best thing that’s happened to this podcast, and that’s saying a lot!


  4. jwartena Says:

    I have guest room for you when you come visit Utah, David!


  5. Ephima Morphew Says:

    A Mormon Talmud is key to understanding with
    Mormon Hermeneutics and the feminist lens.
    In Land of Moron, the Mormon Talmudic Philologist Rules clearify as it has done in ages past,
    . . . or perhaps not –– all these ages are made up by our unrelable narrator.
    with the Melchizedek Priesthood and all that Priesthood entails,
    if only there were Sister Wives for balance, there would be both unity and harmony in the Mormon afterlife and on earth today as well.
    I have given many lectures on this subject and find it still resonates, still worthy of research and discussion.
    Surly in the afterlife as it is on earth, there will be brother husbands too.

    Mormons wail over free will –– yet, the brother–husband remains an orphan to the complexity of mormon/human intercourse.
    Inhumane it may be but that’s the way it is in the Mormon Bible.
    Yeh ––––––––––––



  6. Gunnar Says:

    IMHO, the Book of Ether is the strangest book in the BoM. When I read it or even think about it now, I marvel at how anyone (including, embarrassingly enough at one time) could possibly read through that book and still even begin to take the Book of Mormon seriously. I sometimes wonder if Joseph Smith might have conceived this book as a test for finding the most gullible followers possible. He may have figured, “anyone who will fall for this nonsense will fall for anything I tell them or ask them to do!”



    • Emma Says:

      Plausible. Nigerian prince scammers intentionally include misspellings to weed out those who will be a waste of their time.


  7. dagnyc Says:

    The Mission President will let those missionaries on your program when hell freezes over. And since Mormons don’t believe in hell, you can imagine how long that will be. Never. Still I got a laugh out of picturing those children who are bored out of their minds imagining doing something interesting.


  8. first time commenter Says:

    Long time listener. First time commenter. Active, non-believing mormon here. I am dying to hear more about your experiences with the missionaries! I told my brother about this episode on the phone and he and I were busting up over what those missionaries must have been thinking! As a former missionary, I would have been absolutely floored that any nonMo would have been voluntarily reading that book for fun, let alone have a popular world-wide podcast on the topic! I have absolutely no doubt that you have a better understanding of the BOM than they do.

    Fun missionary facts you might touch on with them:
    1.) We have a rule book, commonly referred to as “the white bible”. Available for download here: https://www.lds.org/bc/content/ldsorg/topics/missionary/MissionaryHandbook2006Navigate.pdf. Favorite quote: “always sleep in the same room as your companion, but
    not in the same bed”. It might be fun having them read this for their episode?
    2.) You get 2 phone calls home / year. Once on Christmas. The other on Mother’s day. These are technically supposed to be short calls (< 30 min). Some missions allow for email, some don't. Missionary mail day is the most important day of the week by far. Contact with friends/family back home. Awesome.
    3.) Missionaries try to commit people to get baptized within the first 2 visits. Once the commitment is made, the missionaries are gung ho about pressuring towards that date.
    4.) Missionaries refer to people who "are prepared to receive the word of god" as "Golden investigators". You'll have to ask them if they consider you to be a "Golden investigator."
    5.) A huge percentage of new baptisms become "inactive", or stop going to church for many reasons. Most new converts are baptized due to the charisma of the young missionaries, and don't really assimilate into the church.
    6.) Missionaries what was used to be called "the commitment pattern." Basically, we are trained to ask very direct questions "Max, will you follow Jesus Christ and become baptized in his church?" "Will you pray to ask God if this is true?" "Will you…will you…will you…" It's really hard for most people to say no to such direct questions.
    7.) There is HUGE social pressure for young men to go on missions. The missionary age used to be 19 for men, 21 for women, but this was recently (few years ago) changed to 18 for men, 19 for women. A good interview question would be what would happen to them socially if they hadn't chosen to go on a mission. The answer is that no good mormon girl would want to touch them with a 10 foot pole. So young men go on the mission despite having sure beliefs in the church.
    8.) There is HUGE social pressure to return honorably from a mission (i.e. not leaving early because you don't believe or not leaving early because you got caught messing around with girls).
    9.) It would be interesting to ask them in detail about their training in the Missionary Training Center (MTC) in Provo, UT. US missionaries spend 3 weeks there. Foreign missionaries spend 8 weeks there due to learning a new language.
    10.) It's really interesting how little Mormons, myself included, understand about other religions. Fun topic.
    11.) As missionaries, we have to give a few awkward lessons. The tough ones: Law of tithing, law of chastity (no premarital sex, porn, masturbation), the word of wisdom (no beer, tea, smoking). It'd be fun asking the missionaries about teaching the law of chastity.
    12.) They really want to be put to work doing service. Take them up on it. Have them clean your toilets, fridge. I bet you they'll do it.

    I'm done with my rant. Keep us updated on the missionaries!


  9. e_kunz Says:

    As far as the above post goes, I must say that the commenter has a poor understanding of the reason behind and the methods for doing missionary work. Having recently returned from a full time mission myself, pressuring people to do things is not the agenda. Much of the work of missionaries is community service in whatever communities they serve. I was in Maine and we taught English classes to the large numbers of African refugees. The teaching we do is in order to answer people’s questions and help them find the truth for themselves, not just take our word for it. Ultimately, its to help connect them to the One who really has the answers for their lives.


    • Bishop Lucy Says:

      Yeah, ok. If missionaries really spend most of their time doing useful community service, that would be incredibly great. But I daresay if that was your experience, it is an unusual one.


    • Bryan Says:

      Let me guess, 2 hours of english classes, twice a week? probably on tuesday and thursday evenings.

      That’s what my mission did too. Here’s a little secret: that’s not service. Those english classes are contact opportunities, and if you’re honest with yourself, you know that’s what they were for.


  10. Jennifer Says:

    Your story of the missionaries was awesome! It’s too bad they are very unlikely to be given permission to appear on your show. However, if it happens it would be epic. I love the idea of them reading the White Bible (aka missionary handbook) with you for the podcast episode. It’s classic mind and information control.
    I am a Christian (with a heart for evangelism to mormon missionaries in particular… I know, weird. I live in a very mormon community), and I have studied Mormon scriptures and Church history for 20 years. It’s like jumping into the most fascinating Alice-in-crazy-Wonderland rabbit hole ever.
    I truly hope you do the D&C next! I was visiting with some mormon missionary friends the other day and said, “Dude, how many converts do you think you would get if you went door to door with the D&C instead of the BoM?” They actually laughed and said, “Probably zero.” No doubt.


  11. Jennifer Says:

    P.S. I would totally come on your podcast someday as your TBE(true believing evangelical) interpreter. You know, to cross reference the thousands of biblical plagerisms and scriptural anachronisms in the BoM. Fun times. And I would be totally in for the drinking game.


  12. ohokyeah Says:

    Every time David said M&M I absolutely thought of Eminem and visualized him as Mahonri Moriancumr, and I snickered.


  13. Tina Says:

    I’ve been AWOL and am late to comment on this episode. I don’t know about everyone else, but I remember being taught in seminary that the reason they had an opening in the top and the bottom was bc they would get tossed about on the sea, and you never knew which end was going to be up. That way, whichever end was up, you could open the trap door/airhole/skylight. Of course, given all the livestock and animal waste aboard, being bounced around topsy-turvy on the ocean is a pretty disgusting image to envision. I never really thought about it as a teen, but the whole story is absolutely stomach-churning. Just in case anyone would like to see an artist’s rendition of these famous barges, here is a link: http://ldsmag.com/wp-content/uploads/images/stories/image/2013/Mar/03_27_13/1%20jaredite%20barges.jpg


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