One Nation Under Gods: A History of the Mormon Church
Four Walls Eight Windows , 2002. Hardback:
Suggested retail price: $32.00 (US)
Rather than a review, I've decided on a brief book report on a bookthat I've started and am not sure I'm going to finish. But I thoughta few words were in order, since this book has been part of somediscussions on the internet.
The book is One Nation Under Gods by Richard Abanes. It isjust another in the ever-growing corpus of anti-Mormon tracts thathave appeared over the years.
Upon first glance, the reader is impressed by its sheer size. Morethan 450 pages of text, nearly 150 pages of notes, plus bibliograpyand index. A lot of work went into this effort. I opened it in thehope that this would be, at last, a new and more challenging effort.
Alas, it was not to be.
Having read only 25 pages or so, it is unfair for me to judge thewhole book. I'll just note a few things that caught my attention:
1. Abanes' introduction contains a quote from Orrin Hatch whereutters the words about the Constitution "hanging by a thread."Familiar words to most Mormons. This then follows:
The prediction by Mormonism's founder, Joseph Smith, contains what hasalways been the Mormon American dream -- i.e., the transformation of theU.S. government into a Mormon-ruled theocracy divinely ordained to 'not onlydirect the political affairs of the Mormon community, but eventually thoseof the United States and ultimately the world.' This loftyaspiration, which dates back to Mormonism's earliest years, continues to bea dominant element of the faith espoused by Joseph Smith's followers. (xvii-xviii)
Really? Are you all out to take over the world? Is this a "dominantelement" of your faith? I've been in and around Mormons for more thana dozen years, and somehow you've managed to hide this from me. I vowfrom this day forward to be more vigilant.
Seriously, Mr. Abanes, I believe, reveals something here. He reallyhasn't spent much time among the Mormons. This theme continues, morelater.
On page 14, Abanes relates the problems correlating the variousversions of the First Vision. Yes, this has been treated many times.Bookcraft published a nice volume on this very subject; BYU Studies (Ithink) also had a nice article some years ago. No big secret here.Abanes' conclusion? "Although Smith's First Vision is a requisitepart of Mormonism's past, historical documents reveal that it probablynever happened" (14). Quite a leap, don't you think?
Here's the corker, and here's where I stopped reading. I trust I cancite this without comment, saying only that Abanes clearly, clearlyhas never read the Book of Mormon, and clearly has no knowledge ofMormonism beyond the flash cards supplied by Sandra Tanner (to whom hegives much credit throughout the book):
Smith's 'second' vision (including the 1827 retrieval of his golden plates)is just as rife with internal and external inconsistencies as is his 'first'vision. For example, in 1842, when the LDS publication 'Times and Seasons',published a version of the second vision, the angel was named 'Nephi' ratherthan Moroni. Joseph's 1832 account of the 'second' vision does not evenidentify the angel, but instead, refers to the entity as an 'angel of theLord' who told him about plates engraved 'by Moroni.' Obviously, if theangel in Smith's room spoke 'about' Moroni, then he certainly could not have'been' Moroni. (25)
Honest, he really says this. I kid you not.
My advice -- save your money.
-------------------------------- Jeff Needle firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
© 2002 Jeff Needle < firstname.lastname@example.org >