In The Cavity of a Rock

In The Cavity of a Rock
Father Lehi

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Biblical social networking common at water wells, also a practice common among the Hopi

In biblical times there are many stories who's background settings take place at the local watering well.  Many of these wells in times past would be covered with a cement cover that usually took more than one person to remove.  This stopped the sun from causing too much water from evaporating.  This alone caused the first person at the water well to have to wait for someone else to show up in order to help remove the top before obtaining water.  This was usually done by men so many times there could be a small gathering of people before obtaining water could even start.  The practice of socializing at the well was very common and many of the classic bible stories take place there.  Some of these are the story of Rebecca (Gen. 24:1-27) and the story of Rachel(Gen. 29:1-14) or in the New Testament the story of the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:1-42).  It was common practice for the woman to be the one fetching water from the well.

This old world practice was also known to have a new world setting as well.  One in particular was found among he Hopi women.  It was common practice for Hopi women to climb down the mesa in order to obtain water from their local watering hole. These watering holes made for a place of social gatherings for many Hopi women, young and old.  As has been noted by Hugh Nibley not only do the pueblos that make up the Hopi villages look like something right out of Old Jerusalem, but many of the Hopi traditional practices seem to be microcosms of Biblical practices. 
The Hopi society is a matriarchal society, the land
that is worked by the man actually belongs to the woman.  The home is usually worked by the woman and it also belongs to the woman as well.  So is it any surprise that so many Old Testament, Law of Moses type practices would be found among the Hopi?  We know that the Law of Moses was observed and followed in the Book of Mormon, and there are many references to it in the Book of Mormon but one in particular that stands out to me is Abinadi's trial by the priests of wicked king Noah (Mosiah 12).  The Book of Mormon stands as a testament that the natives of America (North, Central, and Southern) did in fact have the Law of Moses and even more important, they were visited by none other that Christ himself after he had truly fulfilled that law.  This is why there are many remnants of Biblical practices found among the native populations of the Americas.   

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Che Guevara, Guerrilla Warfare and the Book of Mormon!

Daniel C. Peterson

So I finished the Book of Mormon again the other day.  I am the type of reader where I love to read the Book of Mormon from cover to cover and have done it countless times.  Of course I learn something new each and everytime that I read it.  Something that really stuck out this time was the sorry state in which the Lamanites and even more so the Nephites descended too and that later brought about their demise.  Their constant need for warfare and bloodshed never ceases to amaze me.  One of the recent articles that I read and later listened to on youtube was about guerrilla warfare in the Book of Mormon by Daniel C. Peterson.  In his article he talks about how the description of warfare in the Book of Mormon more directly when dealing with the Gadianton Robbers is best described in what we nowdays know as guerrilla warfare.  He then goes on to point out that this method of warfare is something that Joseph Smith jr. wouldn't have been familiar with when compared to warfare in his own day.

In comparing the warfare in the Book of Mormon with modern guerrilla warfare Dr. Peterson notes the similarities between General Vo Nguyen Giap, Ernesto Che Guevara, and Mao Tsetung's use of guerrilla warfare to that of the Gadianton Robbers.  As stated by Dr. Peterson these three are arguably the greatest authorities on guerrilla warfare in our time.  In 52 B.C, a certain group of Kishkumen assassinate the chief judge and place a man by the name of Gadianton in charge.  We don't know a whole lot about this Gadianton other than when he attempted to assassinate Helaman and his attempt failed due to the fact that  one of Helaman's servants was able to penetrate the rank and file of the Gadianton Robbers and was able to learn of the plot to assassinate Helaman.  Thus giving fare warning in time stop the "would be" assassination from taking place.  Of course it was this failed attempt that sent Gadianton and his robbers into flight to the wilderness (Helaman 2:11).  
Che Guevara

It is from the wilderness and mountains that the Gadiantons were able to set up shop and strategically plan their attacks in such a way that they would not only risk losing any of their limited amount of people but to also make it seem as if there were many more to their numbers than there actually were.  Guevara states, "having taken up inaccessible positions out of reach of the enemy ... ought to proceed to the gradual weakening of the enemy."  It is in the favor of those practicing guerrilla warfare to draw out the war as long as possible by making small raids and only when it can win.  This takes a mental toll on the opponent.  This is done by picking your battles, as Guevara notes, "the fundamental principle is that no battle, combat, or skirmish is to be fought unless it will be won,"  The numerical inferiority of the guerrilla makes it a necessity to only attack at the right time, especially when the guerrilla knows he can win.  This is made clear by Giap, "Is the enemy strong? One avoids him. Is he weak? One attacks him."  Those familiar with the history of the Gadianton robbers will know this is exactly what they did. 

The strategy of the guerrilla is not to gather land but just to weaken their enemy at this point.  This technique is practiced until the guerrilla has sufficiently weakened their enemy or have caused the enemy to bring the fight to them.  If the fight is brought to the mountains or wilderness (guerrilla territory) it then highly favors the guerrilla as has been seen in war against terrorism being fought in Afghanistan.  The fact it took 10 years to bring the demise of Osama Bin Laden should be enough evidence that these methods of guerrilla warfare work.  Although these methods can bring success, with that success there is a chance for over compensation and becoming over confident.  This is known as "premature regularization".  This is when the guerrilla's have successfully obtained wins on many fronts and are now faced with the possibility of fighting its enemy army head on and actually battling for land.  The guerrilla army has a chance of completely winning the military and political conflict at this point by making it a "regular battle" the problem is that if it hasn't sufficiently weakend the enemy it's chances in this "regual battle" are very slim....thus "premature regularization".   

Lachoneus and Gidgiddoni
As Dr. Peterson points out, quite possibley the best text book example of "premature regularization" occurs in the Book of Mormon when the Gadianton Robbers lead by Giddianhi in 3 Nephi write an epistle to the governer of the Nephites known as Lachoneus, commanding him to surrender completely to the Gadianton robbers or be visited with utter destruction.  Thus Lachoneus sent a proclimation among all the people declaring that they should gather themselves together in one spot.  He also appointed a chief captain of their military one who had the spirit of prophecy and revelation.  His name was Gidgiddoni and like Lachoneus he was a just man and a prophet of God.  He advised the people that going against the Gadiantons would lead to their utter destruction. Together with the help of the Lord  they devised a plan that litterally turned the tables. 

Their plan was to gather all the people together, it says they marched forth by the thousands and by tens of thousands until they were all gathered in one place which had been appointed to defend themselves agains their enemies.  They had gathered enough supplies to last seven years at this place of defense and then enacted a scortched earth policy that ruined the chance for any crops in the surrounding lands and territory. This plan was known as the "Proclaimation of Lachoneus". They litterally became the guerrilla and picked their opportune moments for battle and left the Gadiantons with little or no way to supply food to their armies.  The Gadianton army had prematurely regularized their robbers into a full blown military operation and it lead to their demise.

There is nothing grand or extravigant with this scene of continual warfare and bloodshed.  As pointed out by Dr. Peterson this goes beyond anything Joseph Smith would have been likely to create out of his own imagination.  This portrayal of warfare is completely foreign to Joseph and his environment while it makes complete sence when compared to the strategies used by those authorities on guerrilla warfare in our day.  While Joseph would not have been fond of battle he loved the parades and the military pageantry as he sat as the Lieutenant General of the Nauvoo Legion on his black stallion (named Charlie) surveying the blue and gold uniformed Legion.  I can only applaud Dr. Petersons wonderful comparison of modern day guerrilla warfare to that in the Book of Mormon by the Gadianton robbers and add my testimony to his that this portrayal of warfare was beyond Joseph's imagination or understanding and only goes to add more authenticity to the Book of Mormon in my eyes.