Sunday, September 1, 2013

Nephi's Journal

Perhaps the original, "Diary of a Wimpy Kid," this is my commentary on Nephi and the Golden Plates, and is meant for my sister to laugh - so much so, that milk might come shooting out her nostrils....

This year we are reading The Book of Mormon again. My daughter is in the Personal Progress Program, and, if she does everything she can, it will have her reading the Book of Mormon 3 more times in the next 5 years.  In a "small but frequent" effort to help her out, our family is reading one chapter of the Book of Mormon, in the morning, M-F, 52 weeks of the year.  It takes about a year, at that pace, to finish it.
   As we were starting this round, the phrase, "“I do make the record on plates which I have made with mine own hands," led me to ask myself some interesting questions about something that we all know about, but don't often consider.  Like, how and where do you make a golden journal?
  The second of six children myself, and raising four little munchkins of my own, it occurs to me that this would have been both difficult and annoying to everyone else in the family to create a diary, “six inches wide by eight inches long.” 5 —Joseph Smith Jr.  Some of the physical descriptions say, "“Of the thickness of plates of tin.”  “When piled one above the other, they were altogether about four inches thick,” and  “weighing altogether, from forty to sixty lbs.”  —Martin Harris We learn that, “a large portion of the leaves were so securely bound together that it was impossible to separate them.” 16 —David Whitmer,  
  So, going conservatively - a 40 lb journal.  And though it is not known EXACTLY what the metals were made of, we know that it was hard enough to be written on both sides, looked like gold, and that there were quite a few pages.  In PAPER, the Book of Mormon, of similar size, takes up about 642 pages, so 321 back-to-front pages.  Then there was the sealed portion, so multiply those 321 pages by 2/3 more and you get about 963 pages - give or take some pages.  Assuming - for the sake of argument - that they could fit two English pages on one Hebrew/Reformed Egyptian page, that still leaves us with 481 golden pages.  And you gotta ask yourself, WHEN would you have time to make that, and WHERE did Nephi get the materials? And whose idea was this anyway?  We can only imagine. So lets imagine it...

Imagined Scenario 1 : God and Jesus; The Workout of the Gods

God - So, Jesus, I was thinking about our little problem-o; Laman and Lemuel are pretty strong. They're older, and Nephi isn't in quite the shape we need him to be for *ta daaaaah!* SHIP building! I love the way that sounds, SHIP Building!  Anyway, we really need to drag Laman and Lemuel  along.  If we just send the righteous people off, we're gonna have another Enoch on our hands.  We need a foil so that people can see the  bad example, and how to handle my instructions better. Half of them won't realize that they are more Laman than Nephi...

Jesus -  Yeaaaah.  I think we should devise a personal-trainer type thing, where Nephi gets a daily workout.  We will have to work on his upper body, get him seriously cut,  and then have him get some real glute strength.  I say we "forget" to tell him stuff so that he has to keep going back to Jerusalem and pick stuff up.  About 5 times before the big hike should do it. Ideas?

God - How about we have him go to "forge school" and make a heavy journal for him to tote around? Say 40-60 lbs? 

Scenario 2:  Where is Nephi?

Knowing that Lehi lived in Jerusalem back in 600 + BC, we know that families are huge, and helping out around the house.  If we imagine that Lehi had a forge (which would also explain the steel bow), then when did Nephi have time to make all these pages?  Probably during family daylight working  hours. In order to get the metal from it's natural state (he said he went hunting for ore...) into a page state, there would have had to have been quite the elaborate set up.  You need something to super-heat the metal, some sort of form to pour it into to ensure consistent pages, and then something to drill the holes through the thin tin-like pages without ripping it. Who has time for that? I imagine that it went a little like this:

Laman - Hey Mom, where's Nephi - its time for picking up goat poop.
Sariah - Um, he's out in the forge.
Laman - Doing WHAT? What the FREAK!  First it was his hippy hiking with a wheelbarrow, and now he's out there diddly farting around again using up all the firewood!  ALL because DAD lets him do it!!
Sariah - He's... uh, making a journal.  Its a father/son thing.  You know how they are. Making records, compiling records, records, records, records!  They've been really going through the camping gear too. I don't know what is UP with those two lately... I just hope it's a phase.
Laman - THAT IS SO DUMB!  Why does dad love him more than me! And I hate camping - I am NOT going anywhere with them; I don't care WHAT dad says.  I'd rather, like, tie myself to a post than have to go camping with my family.  Seriously mom - he's been getting out of goat poop duty for a MONTH! What the heck!  How many pages does he freaking need! "My name is Nephi and I'm a total LAME-O" - end of story!  I'll even write it for him! "I am a total nerd-dork who is wasting all my life making a freaking journal so I can get out of goat poop duty..."  It's not like anyone is ever gonna read that stuff. What a dweeb.  Seriously.
Sariah - I know... I know... but you got to go to J.E.W.  Jerusalem for a semester, and he didn't.  Can you hand me my favorite golden pot - the big heavy one with the lid and handles?
Laman - Sure. Where is it?
Sariah - What do you mean, "where is it?" It's where it always..... NEPHIIIIIIIIII!!!!!!
Scenario 3: NO, It's YOUR turn!
One of my favorite explanations about the plates is from Orson Pratt’s description of rings “through which a rod might easily be passed, serving as a greater convenience for carrying them.”  Those plates would have been a significant weight and now we gotta tote these suckers around.  It is like an early version of the TOTAL GYM.  You put a stick through some weights, and then do a bunch of repetitions.  But who would have had the responsibility?
Nephi's wife: Honey, if I have to tote one more kid around, I swear, I'm just gonna lose it!  I was up with the baby all night, and your dad says we gotta head even FARTHER into I-don't-know-where again.  I"m really starting to think this was a bad idea.
Nephi: Um.  I can take munchkin off your hands, if you want to take my plates?
Nephi's wife: YOUR FREAKING JOURNAL!  Are you SERIOUS!  Your brother is still pissed about you using his best camel blanket to rub that black crap all over the letters - not to MENTION the fact that he read what you wrote about his "murmuring"!  I think if you even "mention" your journal again everyone except your dad is gonna toss you over a cliff,  toss that stupid journal on top of you, and then TAP DANCE ON YOUR GRAVE!!!  I told you to leave it, but NoooOOOOooOOO!  Had to play the, "Lord told me to do it" card! I HATE THAT CARD!   I told you I didn't want to hear one more thing about your stupid two ton journal.  Here.  I"ll strap the baby to your front.  Now you're equally balanced...
The scriptures can seem really stiff at times, but I think that when we look behind the details and think, "Wait a minute..." we can see a bigger part of the picture. Two of my favorites from my sisters:

"My favorite story is how King Lamoni marveled for an hour at Ammon.  Like, what did everyone else do while he was marveling? 'So... should we order out for pizza or something?'" - Reagan

Lovin' me some scripture study....