brother jake

So, I decided to summarize the Book of Mormon.

Let me start out with a disclaimer: the purpose of this video was not to present a balanced overview of the Book of Mormon as a whole.  Rather, I wanted to demonstrate that many of the Book of Mormon “greatest hits” we often recite have pretty disturbing subtexts, and we should be more mindful of that.

Sure, the story of Nephi emphasizes the importance of obedience and faith. But what about the “it’s ok to kill people when God tells you to” message it also carries?  Or the “using violence against the enemies of the savages to impress them is a great missionary tool” kinda feeling in the story of Ammon? Or the “making sure sinners go to hell is more important to God than saving the lives of the innocent” vibe in the adventures of Alma and Amulek?

Honestly, I like the Book of Mormon. I do. I think it has a great story arc (birth and death of a nation, etc.), some fascinating characters (I mean, Amalikiah? Dissenter who becomes king of the archenemy? That’s straight up Shakespearian!), and is pretty theologically rich (2nd Nephi 2’s interpretation of the Adam and Eve narrative seems particularly forward-thinking).

But I wonder—are the Book of Mormon stories we commonly repeat to children and new converts and investigators really promoting the values we think they are? And if not, how should we approach them differently?