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Meso-Americans Pagans or Christians?


Dale

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Hi,

The new world inhabitants of Book of Mormon times look all like idolators. How do we handle this issue?

Sincerely,

Dale

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The Nephites were just a small group that dwelt amongst the majority peoples that were already here. They had little cultural impact on the peoples, though they attempted to do so.

Is was often the case that the ruling party had different customs, religion, and even language than the average yokels.

And in the BoM, we see how the idolatry affected the people. Isaiah is quoted a lot, who happened to condemn the idolatry in Israel. We have competing religions come up frequently in the Book of Mormon: Korihor and other preachers of varying religions, Nehors, religions of the Amlicites, Lamanite religions that believed in a Great Spirit, religions where faces are painted, high praying altars and towers are built, etc. The Book of Mormon also warns of idol worship, weird sexual and cannibalistic rites, and other practices tied to idol worship.

And these would be the ones that most affected the leadership of the Nephite nation and its authors.

In ancient Israel, there was a temple, but many of the people worshipped Yahweh and other gods in high places. These are only mentioned in the OT when either prophets condemn them, or when a king seeks to destroy them. Otherwise, during the times when a religion did not greatly affect the leaders of the nation, it was not mentioned much in the writing.

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Very interesting answer.

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The BoM preachers warn against problems that aren't apparent in Mesoamerica - like atheism and universalism. Yet it is silent on topics that were universal in Mesoamerica - like ritualistic bloodletting and sacred ball games.

You are forgetting that the BoM is a very small collection of the total writings that existed and that they were selected to speak us in these last days.

In addition, there actually are a couple of references to the evils of ritualistic sacrifices (or perhaps the beginnings of such) in the BoM. Not only during the very last wars bewteen the Nephites and Lamanites, but also the secret combinations that existed (especially among the Jaredites) that one can murder and get gain.

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Hi,

Were words like "ritualistic sacrifice" & "sacred ball games" so important they had to be described or else the book of Mormons a fake? Perhaps they avoided such practices because it was common & didn't have the cultural habit of mentioning such unholy practices in all of their writings.

Sincerely,

Dale

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Hi,

Were words like "ritualistic sacrifice" & "sacred ball games" so important they had to be described or else the book of Mormons a fake? Perhaps they avoided such practices because it was common & didn't have the cultural habit of mentioning such unholy practices in all of their writings.

Sincerely,

Dale

Anyone who has participated in church sponsored basketball will realize that teachings concerning the evil :P that can be manifested at "sacred ball games" is something that DEFINITELY should have been included in a book written for our day! <_<

The fact that it is not included clearly proves that Mormon did not see our day! Thus the Book of Mormon must be false!!

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Were words like "ritualistic sacrifice" & "sacred ball games" so important they had to be described or else the book of Mormons a fake? Perhaps they avoided such practices because it was common & didn't have the cultural habit of mentioning such unholy practices in all of their writings.

Ritualistic sacrifice and sacred ball games are extremely important in Mesoamerican religion.

BoM preachers certainly were engaging in warning their followers not to be fooled by those who would lead them away from their gospel. It makes sense that they would actually warn their followers about things that were actually IN mesoamerica, instead of things that were in nineteenth century America, like universalism and atheism.

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If the Book of Mormon is aimed at its latter-day audience, as it claims it is, it is entirely comprehensible that, within the limits of its capacity, it speaks to that latter-day audience about matters relevant to that latter-day audience rather than about irrelevant matters.

The Book of Mormon as we have it is, to a large degree, the product of the labors of Mormon and Moroni, writing at the end of the history of their people (who never saw it) for another, much later people. Ritualistic sacrifice and sacred ball games are comparatively rare among modern Americans, French Canadians, and Brazilians.

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Ritualistic sacrifice and sacred ball games are extremely important in Mesoamerican religion. 

In what time periods and areas? Is there agreement on this? Is there agreement on the nature and meaning of the games? Do educate us on the specifics.

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So the authors just made up the parts about the universalism and atheism in their own world to reach modern audiences?

Are you aware that the Romans accused the Christians of being atheists? How have you found this term used in ancient texts? Give us some examples that you think the BOM writers should have followed.

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So the authors just made up the parts about the universalism and atheism in their own world to reach modern audiences?

Of course. I said precisely that, didn't I? In the invisible-ink portion of my message? It seems that you have the mystical Critic's Decoder Ring, whereby you can find damning revelations of incompetence, self-contradiction, and stupidity that ordinary folks probably can't see at all.

To accompany that, though, you need the Easy Straw Man Other-Side-of-the-Dialogue Inventor's Kit, because I'm not going to waste my time discussing things with you that you simply make up and attribute to me. I'm headed to Costa Rica tomorrow, but I wouldn't be interested in any event. You'll have to create the rest of my comments on this subject out of the same thin air from which you created the above. I don't doubt your ability to do so.

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Hi,

Beastiet most I see in them not mentioning stuff it was because it wasn't their habit to do so. If the Lord directed them what to write or not write so left it out for space limitations.

Athesism & universalism arn't problems which only are culture struggles with. And considering the Book of Mormon has the Book of Mormon writers highly educated in those issues they can freely write about such issues. Certainly God would know about such issues & what issues people in the 19th century onward would face. The Book of Mormon is relevant to dealing todays issues.

A lot of people even in Old Testament times pretended to believe in God, but doubted His existence privately. Wouldn't God want people to believe in him?

FARMs has debated Universalism in it's FARMS Review of Book's. It's free online if you want to read Volume 6, Number 1, 1994.

Sincerely,

Dale

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Dale,

I am not interested in universalism in particular, merely as an example of what is discussed in the BoM that is not consistent with Mesoamerican history.

In what time periods and areas? Is there agreement on this? Is there agreement on the nature and meaning of the games? Do educate us on the specifics. 

Ritualistic ball games and ritualistic sacrifices, including bloodletting, are found throughout Mesoamerican culture, from the Olmec through the Classic period. I have yet to read any disagreement on this point. The rules of the game are not exactly understood, but it is accepted that the game is likely related to a mythical story shared by Mesoamerican religions, and definitely included human sacrifice. The following quotations may be helpful, from a variety of sources. A quick google search will likely provide many more references.

Some of these issues have already been raised on the thread a "Mayan Lamanites". The thread suffered quite a bit of derailment, but the basic idea is similar. A FAIR search will provide the link.

Some of these quotations were on that thread, as well, but I

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Unless, beastie, you can demonstrate that no individual in pre-classic Mesoamerica was ever a universalist or an atheist yours is a none-too-compelling argument from silence.

As the saying has it, all that's needed to disprove the contention that all crows are black is one white crow. It is impossible to survey all of the "crows" who ever lived in pre-classic Mesoamerica. The evidence is gone, never to be recovered.

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I still fail to see why the Book of Mormon which was abridged to aid us in coming to know Christ would contain details about the Secret Combinations of the Mesoamericans.

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Why would God want modern Book of Mormon readers to reflect on evil practices Nephites nor they wern't supposed to be involved with? And if a practice was mentioned that did include some of those items people would say Joseph stole blood-letting & ball games from some obscure source. So either way the Book of Mormons is in a no win situation because if it isn't one gripe it's another.

Some Book of Mormon scholars feel the Book of Mormon alludes to ancient Israelites practices like the Feast of Tabernacles but not by name. If the cultural habit was to not mention by name certain things then that was not inconsistent with how they decided to write the Book of Mormon.

Also is it inconsistent when theres nothing in the text to criticize directly on those two items? An inconsistancy would be if they mentioned foot ball because that was a modern sport. If a history book avoids the word foot ball is that not inconsistant with modern culture. The book could be argued as a fraud by a scholar living hundred & thousands of years later because it left out a popular modern sport.

Sincerely,

Dale

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Fine, Juliann - let's assume Schele is correct and discard the sacrifice attached to the ball game (although I do wonder where the skull racks came from*). Sacrifice was still an integral part of Mesoamerican religion, or do you also contest that? The ball game was still an integral part of Mesoamerican culture, or do you also contest that?

*http://www.focusanthro.org/Archive2002-03/essays/taplin--02-03.html

Every important ball competition ended in the loss of a human life.  When the First Father lost his competition to the Lords of Death he was promptly decapitated.  Ancient Mesoamericans maintained the metaphor by decapitating their losers as well.  Scenes of ritual decapitation are abundant in Mesoamerican art.  Chichen Itza, Aparicio, El Taj
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(beastie @ May 30 2005, 08:03 PM)

It still amazes me what a ruckus my assertion that a pan-Mesoamerican culture existed, and had identifiable characteristics, caused.  It is hardly a controversial contention.

beastie:

The problem isn't the idea that there is a pan-Mesoamerican culture, but that you derive more information from that statement than is warranted. I took a look at ball courts, just to check. Susan Toby Evans suggests that they are markers of elite architecture. While they have a long history and are widespread, I didn't find any in Santa Rosa or Chiapa de Corzo. That doesn't say that they aren't a part of the pan-Mesoamerican culture catalogue, only that being part of the general culture area doesn't guarantee that they exist in all locations.

As far as the Book of Mormon goes, there are some problems with your ball court example. 1) as elite architecture it would be anthithetical to Nephite ideas and therefore not something that Mormon would want to emphasize. He argues against elitism and social hierarchied but doesn't mention ball courts. 2) The Grijalva river basin is the location where the largest extent of Nephite civilization took place (lasting for only about 200 years). In that river valley is where we find Santa Rosa and Chiapa de Corzo. Neither reported a ball court in the field reports. 3) You are making an assumption that a given text will report on all aspects of a culture. That is simply incorrect and particularly incorrect when the text is constructed for purposes that are completely other than cultural description.

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Concerning atheism and universalism. These are modern labels that are applied to the text and are not part of the text itself. In the case of atheism I think it is over-reading into the text. There is denial of the Nephite God, but that doesn't necessarily equate to atheism.

As for universalism, the Book of Mormon is concerned with the atoning mission of the Messiah. Those who accepted a Messiah but not the need for atonement argued against that need. In the context of the text this is quite logical. That someone later had similar arguments and labeled them universalism is correct. Labeling the Book of Mormon arguments as anti-universalist is misleading.

The issue would be whether or not the mission of an atoning Messiah would be anachronistic for a people who left Jerusalem in 600 B. C. Barker not only suggests it wouldn't be - in her presentation in D.C. she suggested that it was precisely what should have happened.

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My curiosity has also been triggered by Juliann's quote from Schele. I located this essay:

http://mesoweb.com/features/tokovinine/Ballgame.pdf

Go to page three, scroll down to "As for the ballgame sacrifice itself", etc. I don't think the case is closed against the possibility that actual sacrifices were enacted as part of the ball game ritual. ("captive as ball")

I'll come back to the other points later. Time to work.

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