As I was reading this morning on the subway (don’t you just love BoM for the Palm?) I was wondering how the Book of Laman would be written. (I don’t mean something like the farsical Book of Lemuel, found here that has some amusing one-liners but overall is just too silly.) What I’m talking about is Laman’s perspective.
I should probably begin by saying that I respect Nephi and value his faith and have learned a great deal from his words and example. I also thoroughly enjoyed Ryan Bell’s take on the Nephi/Lehi relationship.
That being said, it appears that Nephi saw things as black and white, therefore he painted his pictures the same way. This leads me to wonder if he embellished those experiences we know so well. I mean, the guy could do no wrong and his brothers could do no right (except for repent). Let’s look at a few of these:
1) He believes and follows his father into the wilderness without any kind of internal struggle (if there was one he saw no reason to record it). “Leave our home, our friends, our possibility for marriage, our beds, our good food, our education, our crops and go into the wilderness with an open-ended timeframe when there’s absolutely no visible reason for doing so? Of course I’ll go. And anyone that doesn’t want to leave all of this is a murmurer.”
(Like Ryan points out in his post, there seemed to be no outward manifestation of Lehi being “the” prophet. Sure, he was a visionary man, but he wasn’t President Hinckley or even Moses clearly a leader of many people. As it was L&L were looking at their dad as the guy who played catch with them and has crazy dreams sometimes, not as a modern-day prophet leading masses of people.)
2) He forgives his brothers immediately after they tried to kill him. Either Laman and Lemuel are true psychotic killers with no allowance for sympathy or Nephi said they wanted to kill him when they were actually just really pissed at him for telling them what to do so they beat him up for it. How many times do siblings say, “I swear, he wanted to kill me!”?
3) Nephi exhorts his brothers to look to the example of Moses and the children of Israel and how the Lord released them from bondage. Um, yeah, when you’re in physical bondage it’s easy to look around and say, “dang, this sucks, let’s ask the Lord to release us from this crappy bondage.” But Laman and Lemuel weren’t in any physical circumstances that would suggest any danger, any logical reason to leave Jerusalem.
These are just a few of my thoughts as I’ve been reading this time around. Now, I understand that if L&L were close to the Spirit they would have understood why they were leaving, or at least been more humble in their obedience. But a lot of people don’t pray, aren’t close to the Spirit, don’t follow the commandments and aren’t painted as such a stark manifestation of wickedness. I wonder how Nephi would have painted me in his writings.