Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Living the Nephite Nightmare

(An Open Letter to all Latter-day Saints)

The Book of Mormon is a prophecy for our time.

This has been my thesis since the mid-1980s, when I wrote Parallel Histories: The Nephites and The Americans. It was written over 20 years ago in response to then church president Ezra Taft Benson’s call to carefully and diligently re-examine the Book of Mormon. It was my effort to comply with his earnest request.

Following Pres. Benson’s cue when he observed that we are the modern counterparts of the ancient Nephites, I explored the thesis that our two cultures were more than superficially similar. They are remarkably alike, in profound and meaningful ways. Because it was apparent that my fellow saints weren’t seeing the things that seemed obvious to me, I felt a book was needed which outlined and elaborated that thesis.

Several articles followed over the years, updating, authenticating and validating that book and its thesis. (See the four part series A Harbinger For Our Time, on this blog.) This monograph will further that approach by demonstrating that America has now crossed the final threshold in our headlong rush to unknowingly duplicate Nephite history in our time.

When comparing the two cultures, as we will do herein, one caveat must be kept foremost in mind: While the two histories are similar, displaying similar conditions and events, the two cultures, Nephite and American, are fundamentally different from one another. The resemblance or similarities may be profoundly significant, but the way events played out in Nephite times is unlikely to be identical to the way events play out in our time.

These differences are important to keep in mind. Don’t expect an exact fit. Theirs was a simpler, agrarian-based society; ours is far more complex, based in a largely industrialized and technology oriented society. Their theater was restricted to a regional one; ours is national and international in scope, with many factors that were nonexistent in Nephite times. Thus, events in the two histories must be compared carefully—allowing that each will unfold in different ways, yet they will display remarkable and significant similarities.

In this monograph, we move beyond the astonishing similarities identified in the original book’s presentation. We move beyond the resemblance of the last Lamanite/Nephite War to our Second World War. We move beyond the postwar economic boom that enriched both nations in their respective eras. We move beyond the identical moral and political corruption that ensued. We look beyond the ideological battles that characterized the campaign of the corrupt judges against Nephi, the son of Helaman and their similarities to the Clinton presidency. We look beyond the Gadianton wars and equivalencies that allowed the accurate prediction that today’s terrorists would become our counterpart to the Nephite’s Gadianton robbers during the Clinton and Bush presidencies.

Now we come to the crux of this monograph, the next major parallel between our two cultures. It is the failed internal struggle the Nephites fought to retain their representative form of government, complete with its freedoms and justice.

The Nephite culture had been governed for generations by a representative form remarkably similar to our own. Mosiah said it best: “Therefore, choose you by the voice of this people, judges, that ye may be judged according to the laws which have been given you by our fathers, which are correct, and which were given them by the hand of the Lord.

“Now it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right; but it is common for the lesser part of the people to desire that which is not right; therefore this shall ye observe and make it your law—to do your business by the voice of the people.” (Mosiah 29: 25, 26.)

Mosiah’s observation later proved prophetic in the days of Third Nephi: it is nearly always a minority that wants to venture away from correct principles of governance. The time came, as it always does, when wealth led to pride and a division of Nephite society into classes, “… and some were lifted up unto pride and boastings because of their exceedingly great riches, yea, even unto great persecutions.” (3 Nephi 6:10.)

Social equality dissolved. “And the people began to be distinguished by ranks, according to their riches … for there were many merchants in the land, and also many lawyers, and many officers. … thus there became a great inequality in all the land.” (Ibid. 6: 12, 11, 14.)

Immediately, the wealthy, ruling class within the Nephite nation decided that they wanted to set aside government by the voice of the people and replace it with a monarchy, which would be indebted, naturally, to those of their elite status: “And they did set at defiance the law and the rights of their country … and to establish a king over the land, that the land should no more be at liberty but should be subject unto kings.” (Ibid. 6:30.)

Something strikingly similar seems to be happening before our very eyes today, though no one is trying to set up a monarchy. They don’t need to. The governing class has seen to it that our presidents will be “elected” from their ranks simply because a man of the people has no chance in the corrupt system set up by our politicians in the last half-century. A ruling class of elites, who have no desire to relinquish power, has infiltrated our two party system. They have set rules that make it nearly impossible to unseat them.

The will of the people is no longer of any concern to them. Progressivism (the newspeak term coined to replace the pejorative moniker, “Liberal”) has come to dominate Washington, with its doctrine that the “experts” from the elite social strata—such as corporate heads (“merchants” in Nephite times), politicians (“lawyers” and “priests” in Nephite times) and government officials (“officers” in Nephite times)—should make decisions for us.

When recent protests, populated by ordinary, mainstream Americans, erupted around this country in order to make their voices heard, those who govern and their media minions angrily derided, denounced and dismissed them as dangerously misguided malcontents. So it was in Nephite times when “those who were angered were chiefly the chief judges, and they who had been high priests and lawyers; yea, all those who were lawyers were angry with those who testified of these things.” (Ibid. 6: 21.)

Third Nephi records how it transpired in his day. “And they [the angry chief judges, high priests and lawyers] did enter into a covenant one with another … to combine against all righteousness.” (Ibid. 6: 28.)

Many in our day have made the same decision. They espouse the philosophy that God should have nothing to do with government, in spite of the fact that the founding fathers made just the opposite affirmation. Today’s ideologues obviously seek to constrain religion in any way possible, insisting that the people not allow it to have any part in the operation of their government, that there should be an impregnable firewall between government and religion so that governance cannot be informed by any religious creed or hegemony.

Religion has become the enemy of the Progressives in our day. They make every effort to marginalize and demean people of faith. In effect, those with this secular bent seek to divorce this nation from its religious or sectarian roots, “… to combine against all righteousness.”

The net effect of this initiative among the Nephite cultural elite was clearly manifest. “And they did set at defiance the law and the rights of their country … that the land should no more be at liberty …” (Ibid. 6: 30.)

Something appallingly similar seems to be afoot in our nation today. While politicians give flowery lip service to individual rights, public service and moral rectitude, their personal behavior is often just the opposite. Presidential associates and appointees, for example, are found to hold opinions that are blatantly contrary to constitutional principals and morality, some even openly condemn America and its traditional values. Hypocrisy seems rampant in both political parties. None seem trustworthy any longer.

The good news for us, perhaps, is that the chief judges, high priests and lawyers in Nephite times failed in their endeavor. No Nephite king was enthroned. This bodes well for the outcome of our similar state of affairs. But the net effect of the struggle utterly demolished their government, and it threatens to do so to ours as well.

Will this be our fate? “And the people were divided one against another; and they did separate one from another into tribes, every man according to his family and his kindred and friends; and thus they did destroy the government of the land.” (3 Nephi 7: 2.)

Yet, there was no warfare: “… there were no wars as yet among them.” (Ibid. 7: 5.) However, what we have certainly feels like a war, a contest of wills for power and supremacy, where the ammunition is words and the casualties are truth and justice.

But “the regulations of the government were destroyed, … and they did cause great contention in the land.” (3 Nephi 7: 7.)

Contention is the order of the day in Washington. Our government seems to be descending into chaos amid an extraordinary level of acrimony and controversy. There is an unprecedented rush to pass questionable legislation, without due deliberation and consideration. No one, including the legislators themselves in some cases, seems to know what provisions legislation contains or what it will cost. Our economy is staggering. Unemployment is rising. Our leaders are sending conflicting messages to us, to our allies and to our enemies.

Our condition bears ominous similarities to that of the Nephites.
“And thus six years had not passed away since the more part of the people had turned from their righteousness, like the dog to his vomit, or like the sow to her wallowing in the mire.” (3 Nephi 7: 8.)

Numerous pundits have commented on how quickly we have turned from our constitutional roots in recent years. We’ve done an about-face almost as quickly as did our Nephite cousins. They united to defeat terrorism, in the form of the Gadianton robbers, in their time. Then, in a handful of years, they tore their nation apart from within.

While the terrorist attack on the World Trade Towers immediately brought us together as a nation, speaking with one voice, subsequent events have moved rapidly to undermine our culture and our government. Like the Nephites, we have gone from united to divided in a few, short years. It seems apparent that if we continue on our present course, our nation will suffer a fate equally grievous to that of the Nephites.

Surely the inclusion of this tragic saga in the Nephite narrative was meant to warn us that we would suffer a similar outcome in our day. Surely, Mormon meant us to clearly see our time in this highly polished Nephite mirror.

Will we, too, live the Nephite nightmare?

This viewpoint, provided by an analysis of Nephite history, allows us to sort out the truth, to see through the subterfuge, confusion and contradiction that dominate our present political discourse. The media, the politicians and the pundits cannot misguide those of us who take the Book of Mormon as our guide. It provides a certain compass we can use to steer a course through the present and coming chaos. It is the “more sure word of prophecy,’ as Peter put it.

Given this perspective, no LDS politician who truly believes the Book of Mormon to be the word of God can, in good conscience, support the present movement away from constitutional principles where “the voice of the people” governs. He or she would have to first dismiss the Book of Mormon as irrelevant to our time. He or she would have to deny the God given rights that Nephite prophets declared were vested in the people. In effect, they would have to ignore the Book of Mormon, the very cornerstone of our religion.

I am well aware that my position will infuriate some Latter-day Saints. So be it. It was so with those who sought to undermine freedom and agency in Nephite times; it will be so now. Those who are so angered thereby betray their perfidy.
At the same time, this discourse will strike a chord of recognition in those who truly embrace the Book of Mormon and the Restored Gospel. They will see the remarkable similarities that mark the two histories, and they will want to do something about it.

So, you may ask, “What can I do?” The answer is both easy and hard.
First, as a believing Mormon, your concept of the sanctity of agency requires that you get involved—“anxiously engaged” is the Lord’s terminology. Of that I am certain.

But what I cannot tell you is ‘what’ you should do. You must make that determination for yourself. All I can add is to suggest you follow the counsel of Pres. Spencer W. Kimball: “Do it … now!”

We Latter-day Saints have not heeded the lessons chiseled in the Nephite record. We failed to take note of a vital part of that sacred witness, meant to warn us of our national folly. The diligence of those ancient prophets, who patiently carved their crucial message on precious plates of gold, the determination of a modern prophet to publish their revelation to the world at all odds and the repeated efforts of recent church leaders counseling us to re-read the Book of Mormon, saying that the church is under condemnation for failure to do so, has been set at naught by our indolence. We have the ignominious misfortune of watching the government of our nation self-destruct before our very eyes, just as did the Nephites, while we scarcely lift a finger to oppose it, let alone rush to save our Constitution. That sacred document has too long hung by a thread while we dally. As a result, the forces of evil and darkness are rapidly moving to grind it under the unforgiving foot of oppression and tyranny.

The time for mincing words is far past. It is time to declare our allegiance—either to God, agency and freedom or to watch our great nation follow those that have preceded us onto the scrapheap of failed nations down through history.

What happens next is too terrible to contemplate. If you care to know the details of what awaits us just around the corner, read 3 Nephi, chapter 8. And don’t think it couldn’t happen to us; every prophet since the beginning of time, including the Savior himself, has predicted our fate. Read it, O Zion, and weep, O Israel. Judgement is now at our doorstep.

© Anthony E. Larson, 2009


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this great piece, Tony. I've had several of the same thought running through my head recently and it's not easy for me to combine them and communicate in a coherent manner. It is true that many both in and out of the LDS church seem to be content in sitting idly by as long as there is no "official church program" or direct motion to get them going.

Suzie's Views said...

Amen! Thank you once again for your monograph. I have been weeping so much lately when I see how our Constitution has been trampled and considered a thing of “naught” by the very ones who have sworn to defend and uphold this very document (especially political lds leaders on both sides!). It is an overwhelming proposition to know what to do to help our dying Republic. I am personally committed to help any candidate here in Wisconsin who will be a defender of the Constitution. As many of us have been blinded for so long as to the real state of our affairs in this country I can only hope and have been praying earnestly for other good righteous Americans to stand and defend the liberties granted to us from our Founding Fathers, who in turn knew that our liberties only come from God. I do take comfort as I read the Book of Mormon by how often we are reminded to repent. It is a book of redemption if only we soften our hearts and yield to the enticings of the spirit, only then can we make a real difference, since we will no longer be misguided by the cunning plan of the evil one, who has taken over science, politics, education, culture, etc.

Anonymous said...

To your point, the destruction of this nation has been foretold by many of the ancient prophets. Joseph Smith prophesied this nation would be destroyed. If this be the case, there is nothing we can do to reverse that course. While we can stand and raise our voices, the fate seems to be unchangeable.

Anonymous said...

A question, it appears that the people had been taught and were looking for a specific sign around a specific time. Are we to receive the same from our leaders?

Kristophorus said...

Whether or not one believes the Book of Mormon to be a primary source of historical significance, a student of history should understand that civilizations move and evolve in cycles, constantly rising and falling.

The Book of Mormon, in that sense, is nothing special. It has simply documented a regularity in human history. I believe its synchronicities to our present day situations are to be expected if one accepts the premise of this cyclical motion.

bfrvox said...

Tony, A truly insightful review to the present... The elite, at the highest levels, working through secret combinations have long since infiltrated all governments, particularly our own, as coteries of malevolent men in banking, corporations, science and all levels of government. The agendas of global warming and cap and trade have now in just the past week been revealed to be two sides of the same coin- that of an internationally organized push for global governance. Recent revelations through leaked emails and the Copenhagen treaty draft are truly startling.
Ultimately, to participate in commerce under such a scenario, will have us practicing the religion of global warming and all that its depths implies. As the the parable of the ten virgins reminds us, all at one point were asleep, oblivious to current events until startled awake.

We shouldn't expect the Church to come out directly against these people, since that is a job for the Book of Mormon and individual church members. The Church has other well defined missions to accomplish and will move ahead independently of the surrounding chaos. As during his trial, the Lord will pick his battles: he did not even open his mouth to the Herod nor attempt to answer his questions.
During this coming battle, the saints will surely suffer as Nephi has warned us, but in the end after all we can do, the Lord will be the one who will ultimately have to fight this battle to a conclusion. As you have so mentioned, that battle comes in chapter 8 of 3 Nephi.

bfrvox said...

As for cycles and the Book of Mormon, the great message of Jaradite and Nephite history is that cycles don't just happen. It teaches us that cycles are the result of the struggle between good and evil, the effects of repentance and no repentance,that bad things don't just happen: they happen because an organized malevolent force wants them to happen and is organized eeven covertly as secret combinations and manifest themselves as war and consiracy.

Anonymous said...

Anthony great article. I agree with all the other comments that have been made. Both Nephi and Mormon warn us in the Book of Mormon of the Secret Combination that seeks to take away liberty. I personally believe that this secret combination has infiltrated our government, Media, Banks, and other Elite positions. What is the way in the Book of Mormon that the secret combination always tries first? And what is the best vehicle to control people? GOVERNMENT. I believe the constitution is a lot closer to hanging by a thread than people realize. I have come to the conclusion that Zion won't be established until the current system of government is broken, and a sort of cleansing takes place. The bad thing is the chaos that takes place with the breaking down of the government. I agree that what happened to the Nephites will in some way happen to us in the near future. And the sad thing is that the majority of people are asleep. And even if they don't like what is happening they just keep voting for the same people. Anthony is right this broken two party system is so powerful that no honest person stands a chance of being elected to a position to make very much difference. That is why I believe something must happen first in order for people to return to the constitution. Like it says in the D&C regarding the constitution: More or less than this cometh of evil.

Unknown said...

I have no earthly idea how anyone could berate you in any way, shape or form for what you said here. You have hit the proverbial nail on its proverbial head! As a nation, we let ONE woman take prayer from our schools, and ONE woman legalize abortion. If one person alone could make laws allowing each of these horrible things, think what can we do if we ALL stand together and fight against there corrupt politicians. It really hurts, however, when one of the most corrupt leaders is a member of our church. I for one am NOT sitting idly by. I fax and call my representatives constantly, and I have joined the 912 project, the Tea Party, and other such organizations where I feel my voice can combine with others to be heard. Keep up the good work Anthony!!!!

Marc Edward Stacy said...

Once again...Bravo! Brother Larson, I wish that I was your next door neighbor. I'd be over every day!
Recently, I have been on a trip of discovery. A trip that I was sad to take. It has been really really hard to discover the weakness of the "brethren." As an example, the way Ezra Taft Benson was seen by some of his contemporaries. Truly sad. Here is some examples:

U.S. under-secretary of state W. Averill Harriman asked Hugh B. Brown how long Ezra Taft Benson would be on his European mission. Pres. Brown reportedly replied: "If I had my way, he'd never come back!" (Brown statement to Harriman and Richard D. Poll in Salt Lake City, 25 Oct. 1963, quoted in Poll's letter to D. Michael Quinn, 13 Aug. 1992.)

Joseph Fielding Smith identified Benson's European mission as intentional exile. The Quorum of Twelve's president wrote to Congressman Ralph R. Harding (Idaho) on 30 October: "I think it is time that Brother Benson forgot all about politics and settled down to his duties as a member of the Council of the Twelve." JFS also said, "He (Benson) is going to take a mission to Europe in the near future and by the time he returns I hope he will get all of the political notions out of his system." (Smith to Harding, 30 Oct. 1963, photocopy in folder 2, box 4, King Papers, and in folder 22, box 5, Buerger Papers.)

One of the directors of an LDS institute of religion wrote: "May a dumb spirit possess Bro. E.T.B." (George T. Boyd, associate director of the LDS institute of religion in Los Angeles to "Dick" [Richard D. Poll], undated but written ca. 18 Oct. 1961 and answered 24 Oct)

Joseph Fielding Smith wrote: "I am glad to report to you that it will be some time before we hear anything from Brother Benson, who is now on his way to Great Britain where I suppose he will be, at least for the next two years. When he returns I hope his blood will be purified." (Wilkinson diary, 14 Dec. 1963; Joseph Fielding Smith to Congressman Ralph Harding, 23 Dec 1963)

It's enough to make a person sick. This also shows us just how human the "brethren" really are. Anyway...we will be getting what we deserve, there can be no doubt of that. I have spent most of my time (as I am disabled, unable to work, so I spend a fair amount of time preaching/blogging to the church members, world, family and friends.) I find that family and friends want NO PART of hearing my words! I can barely raise a whimper out of the others as well. I have read that Orson Hyde spoke to the "Constitution by a thread" as he heard it. He said that brother Joseph said..."IF" the Constitution was to be saved, it would be by the elders. I keep hearing over and over, how "the elders" will save us all! IF...he said..."IF!" the LARGEST word ever spoken, I find. Tony Larson has raised his voice! And in doing so...he has saved me from a great deal of "inherited lies!" Let he who has eyes,see and ears,hear! Thank you, Brother Larson. My Friend.

Tom said...

The constitution as a document and as the backbone to this nation may not survive, but the principles are eternal. Technically, do we really need a document, a piece of paper to tell us of our inalienable rights? Generally, the answer should be a resounding no. The problem we all face is that there are those out there who wish both power + gain and have found a system which enables their addiction.

In order to feed that addiction, they need more power + gain. So, they do what they must to get it. I suppose the actual constitution hasn't meant much since the mid-1800s, if that late. Since the very beginning, conspiring men and moneychangers have labored to put the their words and laws above anything else.

I realize this topic isn't specifically directed towards the constitution, but I really don't know that the mothership can be saved, or even turned around, considering how far we've come from the days of self-regulation. We're looking at a row boat trying to turn things around and it's not likely.

Thoughtful article - I think the more likely result of our desire to change and promote values to those around us will be to individuals...the nation itself will fall and come to an end (D&C 87:6). Individuals, however, can find their way to protection before then.

Tony said...

I have to say that I actually agree with many of the points you make on this Brother Larson.

"Thou hast well said"

Anonymous said...

"We shouldn't expect the Church to come out directly against these people, since that is a job for the Book of Mormon and individual church members."

The above statement is a curious one.

In ancient times Gods prophets and apostles were the primary ones who had specific responsibility raise the warning voice and to be the watchmen on the tower... but now, in our more advanced and enlightened state, the leadership of "The Church has other well defined missions to accomplish"

It seems to me that if the church and nation is temporally destroyed prior to the establishment of Zion, no other "well defined missions" will really matter, nor will they be accomplished.

That fact that the Lord is inspiring people like Tony to raise the warning voice while contemporary leaders are all but silent on these issues and preoccupied with their well defined missions is very disturbing.

Anonymous said...

i believe that our Church leaders will take a much more active and visible role in these matters. I believe that the time will soon come that we will hear from our Prophet and Apostles in a way that we have never heard from them before, and we will need to pray much for them and our brothers and sisters as we blaze new trails. A challenging yet exciting time lies ahead! It all boils down to this: we must preserve the Constitution that guarantees our liberty. Liberty is the trumpet through which the Gospel message is proclaimed.

Marc Edward Stacy said...

I agree with this last statement with one exception. I believe just the opposite. I believe that the leadership will get "quieter" as time goes on! I believe the "excitement" will be brought forth by the "Holy One of Israel!" The Davidic Servant! There is a great deal of scripture that seems to point straight to this issue. Most just don't "see" because they can't...or because they don't want too! I do have one last question though. If the brethren are going to stand forth with such a mighty stance...what taking them so long?

Unknown said...

Brother Larson, I just found your blog through Face Book.
Thank you for being an articulate voice of reason and common sense.
You are correct, God is going to start preaching his sermons and Haiti is just a drop in the bucket when compared to what awaits the rest of us.
God bless you in all of your righteous endeavors.

Dave P. said...

Brother Larson,

I actually read this just the other day and I do believe it was off of, but it's nice to know the original source.

In addition to my comment there, "I would just like to throw in the additional point that the modern-day Gadiantons aren’t hiding in caves across the ocean, but rather have already infiltrated our government because, like the Nephites, the people tolerated and adopted their practices to the point that they no longer had to operate as a secret combination," I wish to point out another idea for consideration:

Regardless of who conspired the events of 9/11 or how they pulled it off, the events that followed that sad day are most closely likened to the events of 3 Nephi chapter 3. Sadly, instead of Lachoneus and Gidgidonni, righteous leaders who understood the Lord's law of war, we had George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. Looking at the quagmire over in the Middle East now, is it not safe to say that the Lord has delivered us into their hands?

Anonymous said...

IS VERY GOOD..............................