Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Twain on the Book of Mormon

I try not to be too negative, but as one who has done a fair amount of ministry to Mormons and read bits and pieces of the Book of Mormon, I just couldn't help but post this great bit from Mark Twain's Roughing It (which includes a number of great, if fanciful, sections on the Brigham Young era Mormons). Anyone else who has been subjected to Smith's book can relate:

"All men have heard of the Mormon Bible, but few except the 'elect' have seen it, or, at least, taken the trouble to read it. I brought away a copy from Salt Lake. The book is a curiosity to me, it is such a pretentious affair, and yet so 'slow,' so sleepy, such an insipid mess of inspiration. It is chloroform in print. If Joseph Smith composed this book, the act was a miracle- keeping awake while he did it was, at any rate. If he, according to tradition, merely translated it from certain ancient and mysteriously engraved plates of copper, which he declares he found under a stone in an out-of-the-way locality, the work of translating was equally a miracle, for the same reason." (from the first paragraph of chapter XVI, or 102-3 in my copy!)

I recommend the rest of the section, as Twain's sarcastic wit continues with equal hilarity. I guess it is especially poignant for me since a couple Mormon missionaries recently came by and I almost fell asleep as we all read through a chapter from the Book of Alma out loud.


Anonymous said...

I would have to disagree with Mark Twain. Unlike you and Twain who have read "bits and pieces," I've read from the Book of Mormon literally every day for the past 14 years, without missing one day, and it has completely changed my life! I know Jesus Christ better because of it.

Speaking of "context", if you're going to quote your beloved Mark Twain, perhaps you should also know he said much worse things about the Bible (which I also love) than the Book of Mormon. Do you agree with these quotes of his?

"It (the Bible) is full of interest. It has noble poetry in it; and some clever fables; and some blood-drenched history; and some good morals; and a wealth of obscenity; and upwards of a thousand lies."

"The Christian's Bible is a drug store. Its contents remain the same; but the medical practice changes...The world has corrected the Bible."

"When one reads Bibles, one is less surprised at what the Deity knows than at what He doesn't know."

"I am plenty safe enough in his hands; I am not in any danger from that kind of a Diety. The one that I want to keep out of the reach of, is the caricature of him which one finds in the Bible."

"I cannot see how a man of any large degree of humorous perception can ever be religious -- unless he purposely shut the eyes of his mind & keep them shut by force."

"Leaving out the gamblers, the burglars, and the plumbers, perhaps we do put our trust in God after a fashion. But, after all, it is an overstatement.
If the cholera or black plague should come to these shores, perhaps the bulk of the nation would pray to be delivered from it, but the rest would put their trust in The Health Board."

"If Christ were here there is one thing he would not be -- a Christian."

Consider the source, my friend. I reject Twain's views of God and scripture, and I think you do too.

Anonymous said...

Holy cow. You two are funny. Looks like the original post just lost all its credibility...