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About JeremyOrbe-Smith

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  1. How an Ahistorical Book of Mormon Can Still Be Scripture

    I believe he should be put in jail, not beheaded by a kid listening to the voices in his head telling him to murder the guy in cold blood while he's lying drunk and unconscious in the street. Jesus. Look, here's what gets me about threads like this one. If we're going to go the metaphorical, ahistorical, 'spiritual lessons', demythologizing route, then let's at least take the books seriously enough to actually read what is written in them. What great moral insight do we learn when Jezebel is thrown out the window so that dogs can eat her flesh and her carcass can be as dung upon the face of the field? What deep Spiritual Truth do we get from the Levite cutting up the concubine into 12 pieces? What profound lesson do we learn by considering Lot being roofied and raped by his own daughters, or all the Witches murdered throughout the centuries because God Said So? If these scriptures are merely the best guesses of some ancient tribes, and not Prophetic declarations from people who claim to speak with the Creator of the world, then what is the point of carrying them around as if they contain some great secret? Okay, so they teach us to commune with God. Why would we want to commune with a being that does all the things the scriptures say God does, atrocities that would put Dahmer and Hitler to shame? Psalm 110: Thou art a Priest forever, after the Order of Melchizedek. The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through Kings in the day of His wrath. He shall Judge among the Heathen, He shall fill the places with the dead bodies. God makes it quite clear that He causes all these horrors on purpose, as part of a greater plan. The scriptures are not just descriptive, as if the text is merely recording these horrific events in history without endorsing them, it is explicitly prescriptive; God is not merely warning us about negative consequences which might flow naturally from our own bad behavior, He is not just teaching us the natural blessings that come from obedience to His principles and describing the violence as a natural consequence of our human choices when we disobey. No, He is explicitly taking credit Himself as having done this all deliberately. Bottom line: if there really is some hyper-advanced intelligence which has been watching over us for millennia and murders us from the sky whenever it feels like it, then the Forteans and William Bramley are right, and all of humanity should be banding together to fight this creepy extraterrestrial(s), rather than slaughtering ourselves over the pathetically inconsequential sectarian differences that have provoked so much bloodshed over the centuries.
  2. How an Ahistorical Book of Mormon Can Still Be Scripture

    "So It appears you now believe evil, injustice, alienation and hate win out in the end." If the scriptures are accurate representations of God's character, then God is evil, unjust, and hateful when He promises to force people to eat their own sons and daughters or melt their eyeballs out of their skulls or behead people or hurl javelins through lovers or command the Chosen People to commit genocide and utterly destroy even innocent children, yes.
  3. How an Ahistorical Book of Mormon Can Still Be Scripture

    Is it really, honestly, truly, more likely that the revelation of the Book Of Mormon was specially timed by Angels to coincide with Rosh Hashanah, than that Joseph Smith lived in a farming culture that was steeped in zodiacal lore and attached special significance to the Autumnal Equinox? That last link includes the passage: "No bolder statement could be made about God’s involvement in history than that of an angel delivering a historical record full of interactions with God." Personally, I think God could prove Himself to be a lot bolder if He physically showed up in the White House tomorrow and treated Trump with the same level of civility He showed to, say, Onan. Or is Trump provoking North Korea into a frickin' nuclear war less sinful than not being totally into impregnating your dead brother's wife after a forced marriage? Meanwhile, Cain gets God's sevenfold protection after murdering his own brother, and Elijah gets charioted away to Heaven after hacking 555 guys to death ... (At the very least, wouldn't Moroni have mentioned something to all those Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews in New York during Joseph Smith's time?) The Book Of Mormon does not contain a moral message. The "deeper truths", the "spiritual truths I find communicated clearly" in the Book Of Mormon, along with the rest of the scriptures, are completely monstrous. Think of the story in Alma 14, when innocent women and children are being burned alive while people with the power to save them stand by and do nothing. In the very next chapter, those same powerful people, men of God, go to the land of Sidon and heal Zeezrom's FEVER. The author of the Book Of Mormon, who was clearly Joseph Smith (some critics try way too hard to detect elaborately silly conspiracy theories), was perfectly fine with God being willing to let people be burned alive, and beheaded like Laban, and zapped by self-righteous prigs like Nephi, and smitten like Sherem, and slain like the Amlicites, and crushed to death like Korihor, and burned and drowned and buried alive in Zarahemla. And of course there's that beautiful passage in 2 Nephi 6: "I will feed them that oppress thee, with their own flesh; and they shall be drunken with their own blood as with sweet wine; and all flesh shall know that I the Lord am thy Savior and thy Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob." Of course, in other scriptures, God says He could change us all from mortality to immortality in the twinkling of an eye. Then again, maybe He'll get off on a technicality, since He also promises to punish sinners in such a way that they are left with no eyes to twinkle with. I really love that uplifting, inspirational, spiritually fulfilling Section 29 of the D&C: "I the Lord God will send forth flies upon the face of the earth, which shall take hold of the inhabitants thereof, and shall eat their flesh, and shall cause maggots to come in upon them; and their tongues shall be stayed that they shall not utter against me; and their flesh shall fall from off their bones, and their eyes from their sockets." I suppose it's better than all the cannibalism God commands in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 and Isaiah 49 and Jeremiah 19 and Ezekiel 5 ...
  4. Hie to Kolob

    Kolob and O My Father were my favorite LDS hymns when I was a believer. I still think they are among the most beautiful pieces of art Mormonism has to offer. They somehow encapsulate in microcosm the infinite cosmological vision of the deepest Mormon theology that I wish was coherent and true. I was never a fan of much of the superficial LDS 'culture', but I feel deep nostalgia for those songs, and the people I sang them with at that time in my life. Edit: What the heck, here's an old recording of me singing/pianoing/guitaring O My Father: Invocation
  5. South Arabian Inscriptions

    So. God is such an awesome GPS that He can guide people safely through the Arabian desert and give them detailed instructions on how to build boats capable of crossing the largest ocean on the planet and preserve a detailed description of the entire journey (including directions and place names) and then transmit said record to a Prophet living on a different continent and separated by over a thousand years ... ... but He can't bother sending anyone a vision to find Elizabeth Smart while she's being raped three times a day for nine months 18 miles from her home in Utah? I guess "all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good." Thank G-d the Lord is keeping meticulous track of all our lost keys!
  6. Non-Sequential Mormon Theology

    I've only read the Vedas and the Tao Te Ching and the Kojiki and some Confucius, but I think it's clear there's a lot of astronomical/astrological stuff going on. Read Hamlet's Mill about the various celestial 'Ways'. Just as a quick example, I think the Tàijítú circle as a diagram of the ultimate power of the Pole, divided equally between the feminine Yin and the masculine Yang, probably represents the two sides of the ubiquitous celestial mountain. The Yab-Yum embrace of lingam and yoni is commonly celestialized as well. (Pramantha = Prometheus = mentula = lingam.) If you read Plato's story about the Hermaphroditic origin of gender, and certainly the Demiurge's planetarium creation in the Timaeus, I think it's clearly based on a similar cosmological scheme. ('The different' = the ecliptic, 'the same' = the celestial equator, etc.) As far as the Shin Tao goes, I think the gnostic-y Shining Path (er, no relation to Peruvian Communists ... ) of so many esoteric religions is based on the imagined progress of 'souls' descending or ascending through the planetary spheres and the zodiac and all that (ie, what Daniel Peterson is talking about re Ascension literature). I'm just skeptical that souls actually make such a journey. (The Vedas talk about the rikshaka, the pathway of the Bear [Ursa Major/Minor along the Milky Way?], but, well, I'm not very ursine myself, so ... ) Mother Ganga = the Milky Way, the Sea of Milk that the Shamans talk about ... I'd speculate that the handwashing ceremony mimicking Izanagi and Izanami has something to do with the dipper constellations ... the eight Trigrams definitely have a three-layered conception of Heaven/Tiān: ☰ ... the Mongols riding towards the four-sided Cosmic Mountain topped with a tree had the same sacred number as the Aztecs, 52, which is the number of weeks in a year, and the number of sailors in Odysseus's boat. Homer is quite explicit about the cosmological stuff; the numbers in the Eddas are, too. The Vedas talk about the Seven Sisters. The Parents of the world stood on the Rainbow Bridge and used the Celestial Jewel-Spear to stir the primordial sea of the milky way, churning the milk to form the constellations and the islands of Japan. Amaterasu was a Sun Goddess. Etc., etc. My point is, none of this imagery means the underlying astronomy is wrong, it just means I'm doubtful I'll literally be making the trip past the moons of Jupiter after I croak, regardless of what the Celestial Masters have taught. (I don't recall Joseph ever mentioning Taoism (?), but it's worth noting that Chinese immigrants were teaching Taoism in America since at least the 1840s. Zen was known from at least 1727. Etc. The East India company had been around for a looong time, man. I'm not sure what's so special about the formulation 'opposition in all things' that Joseph couldn't have 'known' about it. It's a pretty obvious 'philosophy'.) The point is, history is based on a calendar, whether or not the timeline is conceived of as being cyclical or not. The calendar, whether 'secular' or 'religious', is based on the rotation of the earth, the positions of the sun and moon and stars, all that stuff. And all that stuff was transmitted in preliterate society through imagery, ie the three-tiered worldwide cosmology (with elaborations or subtractions, of course), and the anthropomorphizing of nature. So if a personification of, say, a planet within that cosmological structure, was not originally a historical figure (a historical 'God'), and then someone a few hundred or a few thousand years later claims to have telepathically received literal histories from said ahistorical entity, it doesn't really ... work.
  7. Non-Sequential Mormon Theology

    If history is irrelevant, the Church is certainly going to a lot of trouble for nothing by distributing big thick books that they explicitly claim to be literal historical records of the interactions between God(s) and humanity. The entire Church as a distinct entity is built on the historical claim that there is an entity (or entities) called 'God' who intervenes in history, for instance in the 1830s, or during the Nephite battles. It is completely disingenuous to claim that history does not matter. I mean, c'mon, the Joseph Smith History? The whole point of the Book of Mormon is historical. Jacob 1 claims that an ostensibly historical figure named Nephi taught another ostensibly historical figure named Jacob that "the history of his people should be engraven upon his other plates, and that I should preserve these plates and hand them down unto my seed, from generation to generation. And if there were preaching which was sacred, or revelation which was great, or prophesying, that I should engraven the heads of them upon these plates, and touch upon them as much as it were possible, for Christ’s sake, and for the sake of our people. For because of faith and great anxiety, it truly had been made manifest unto us concerning our people, what things should happen unto them. And we also had many revelations, and the spirit of much prophecy; wherefore, we knew of Christ and his kingdom, which should come." In the D&C, God supposedly said "that it is my will that you should hasten to translate my scriptures, and to obtain a knowledge of history, and of countries, and of kingdoms, of laws of God and man, and all this for the salvation of Zion." The unsupported (historical) claim that a telepathic being (or beings) on another planet (or in some other dimension, or wherever) is communicating daily with billions of people, and has for thousands of years, is, I admit, not terribly convincing to me.
  8. Non-Sequential Mormon Theology

    It doesn't work. There has to be a historical core at some point, or else the entire edifice collapses. What is the 'non-sequential' utility of believing in Gold Plates? If the Book of Mormon is not historical, it is worthless. If it is not historical, then the morality it preaches is absolutely horrific. (Let people be burned alive as an object lesson even when you have the power to save them, purely to make some trivially banal theological point as if it is 'deep', and then turn around and heal someone's fever in the next chapter, etc.) In the context of Mormonism, God is not interchangeable with 'ultimate reality', and it makes me kind of sad to see believers trying to graft in traditional transcendental theological arguments from other traditions, even though I'm no longer a believer myself. I see so many Mormons taking the only good things about their theology (in other words, the things which most closely resemble secular scientific or philosophical ideas -- like the conservation of mass and energy, the mind-melting impossibility of 'immaterial matter', the exaltation of male and female embodiment, etc -- that Joseph Smith welded into his theology) and trying to downplay them in order to fit in with traditional Christian theology, which was discredited centuries ago. (By the way, Nibley was wrong about Joseph Smith 'translating' the BoM at the exact right time to preemptively counter the atheistic arguments which would follow after Darwin in the characters of, for instance, Korihor. All those arguments existed long before; he wasn't anticipating a thing. Even monsters like de Sade had written the atheist-promoting stuff in Philosophy in the Bedroom by 1795.) If you really want to go the etymology route, you'll find that it REALLY ends up in astrotheology. Theos comes from an Indo-European root, which ultimately has nothing to do with (and indeed predates) Semitic Elohim. Same deal with our word God, which is Germanic ghut. Divinity, Deos, all the Indo-European words, ultimately come from dyeu, meaning 'shining'. In other words, the Gods were the points of Light shining in the sky: the planets and stars and moon and sun. That Indo-European root is where all the common mythologies spread from; Dyaus Pitar of India is Zeus Pater of Greece is Ju-Piter of Rome, etc. Same goes for all the other days of the week: Sun-Day, Moon-Day, the war-God Tiu's-Day (Mars), Woden's Day (Mercury), Thor's Day (Jupiter), Frigga's Day (Venus), Saturn's Day (the Sabbath of the demiurge Saturn/Jehovah). Even our word 'soul' is Germanic, and probably means 'from the sea'. Not quite the same as spiritus or anima or nefesh or ka or ba or whatever. (And we certainly don't get our morality from Christianity, or any form of theism; Latin moralis was coined by the pagan Cicero before Christ was even born; ethike philosophia was pagan, too. For that matter, grace is an Indo-European word gwreto that predates Christianity and is indeed embodied in pagan Goddesses.) The cosmological schemes are metaphors for celestial movements. They are ultimately 'scientific' models. The common worldwide motifs like the axis mundi Tree of Life growing in the garden of the Heavenly Mountain, the flat earth supported by the four pillars and surrounded by the celestial sea, yada yada, that was all the technical language of astronomer-priests: It's the same idea as teaching a grade schooler about the orbit of planets by giving them a visual demonstration by holding a tennis ball and circling it around a lightbulb. We don't take it literally; it's just a model. It's 'real' or 'true' in the sense that it is a sort of microcosmic model representing a larger reality, but if anyone were to take from the lesson the idea that planets are literally giant tennis balls, they would definitely have the wrong idea. Temples, then, were built as edifices to maintain the sacred calendars (the circle of the ecliptic; the square formed by the four points of the two equinoxes and two solstices within that circle; the 12 houses of the zodiac, etc). Because the 'Gods' were personifications of the planets, the stars, the sun and moon, the 'Gods' marked and determined the seasons; the seasons determined the harvests; the harvests determined human prosperity or lack thereof. Re-read the earliest scriptures from around the world with the perspective that they are personifications of celestial movements, and they actually (finally) start to make some sense. And the sacred calendar is the root. That's where we get the ubiquitous number 7 (or multiples thereof), which is based on the seven-starred constellation which circles around the pole star; that's where we get the stories about a celestial boat (Argo constellation). That's where we get the Serpent (constellation), and the war between the Dark and the Light, and the Heavenly Hosts, and the 12 (zodiacal) tribes represented by (zodiacal) animals, and the Virgin (Virgo) that gives birth to a new age represented by a Fish (pisces). That's where it all comes from. The creation stories in Hesiod or Homer or Plato or Genesis or the Rig-Veda or the Kojiki are all about the creation of new World Ages, ie, the root of secularism. (Each Age is a Saeculum) (This is also, I'd say, where the Deuteronomist prohibition against worshipping the hosts of heaven comes from, during the Reforms which produced the Old Testament as we have it today.) Since the underlying meaning of the vivid imagery of the sacred calendar was lost and the images then literalized by later generations trying to make sense of these old writings, people then had those images in their minds to draw on. Later 'scriptures' written as if the personifications were literally people (Gods) are clearly, then, fictional. (Book of Mormon, Urantia Book, channeled writings or all kinds based on cryptomnesia, ancient astronaut theologies, etc) The planets don't talk to us, and they certainly don't answer prayers. The 'Gods' we see every night shining above us when we go on wilderness treks to have our mountaintop theophanies don't step in and cure ebola or prevent car accidents or help people dodge bullets or, y'know, find their lost keys. In the 250,000 or so years of anatomically modern humans, there has been zero evidence that any benevolent ancient astronauts are out there making sure we'll be okay. We should stop relying on Gods who never answer back. We've got each other, and that's it.