|Subject:||TO ALL RMs (Mormon returned missionaries): How strong is the power of the Book of Mormon?|
|Date:||Sep 14 19:07|
|I'm wondering if anyone out there had similar experiences with the
Book of Mormon during their missions.
I served my mission in Spain, which is a very Catholic western-culture society. If the Book of Mormon had any glaring power over "western collective religious unconsciousness" it should have manifested itself in Spain.
First off, many spaniards are superstitious and easily accept stories about visions, angels and Jesus. Until recently, Catholicism was a required part of public education. So most are familiar with the Bible and many have no problem believing in the J.S. First Vision.
During my almost two-years in Spain I talked with thousands of people and handed out hundreds of Book of Mormons. Many read the book but almost none got anything spiritual out of it (by itself). A handful changed their lives and joined the church, but I can't say it was a direct result of reading the Book of Mormon. People joined the church for all kinds of reasons and in most cases they just accepted the Book of Mormon as a rite of passage, not as the main motivating factor.
As a missionary, we constantly challenged people to pray about the book. Many sincere people took the "Moroni Promise" seriously to find out if it was "true." I personally fasted and prayed for MANY people to get an answer to their prayers that it was true. But it never happened unless they were also praying about other things, like if they should join the church or if they should stop smoking. By itself, the Book of Mormon didn't evoke a clear answer from heaven.
My experience was not unique. There were nearly 200 missionaries in my mission. All of us carried the Book of Mormon with us each day and shared it with anyone who would take it. We dedicated our lives to flooding the earth with that book. But on average, the mission had 20 baptisms per month, with most leaving the church within the first three months of joining.
It's been ten years since I served my mission and most of the places I served are now closed mission areas. The church has seen no real growth there despite the distribution of tens-of-thousands Book of Mormons. The only ones "stuck" with the BoM in Spain are the few members and missionaries who feel obligated to adore it as scripture.
If the Book of Mormon has some magical spritual influence on the non-mormon masses of the world, we didn't see it in Spain. In fact, we saw that simple friendship and an inner desire to improve one's life had a lot more power to convert than did the words in the Book of Mormon.
But was my mission unique? Did anyone who served a mission experience consistent and compelling examples of the "power" of the Book of Mormon?
Maybe in other parts of the world the Book of Mormon by itself is spiritual dynamite. But in modern Spain it is a total dud.
|Subject:||The Book of Mormon is indeed a powerful...|
|Date:||Sep 14 19:15|
My experiences in southern France twenty years ago echo your own in Spain...
|Subject:||"The Book of Mormon is the Key to Conversion."|
|Date:||Sep 15 14:37|
|That was the official approach when I was a missionary in the early 1970s. Just get them to read it and pray about it and presto! the Holy Ghost would do his joojoo and they would be converted. However, in my particular corner of the world, few people could read above a 3rd-grade level and many were nearly illiterate. We had others whose literate language was Ukrainian. There were no Ukranian BoMs in those days. In the mission president's infinite wisbom, he sent us a box of German BoMs, as if they were close enough to be the same. Idiot.|
|Subject:||Literacy only makes it worse|
|Date:||Sep 16 12:24|
|The ideal victim of the Book of Mormon's charm is someone who can
barely read. First, because they don't have anything to compare it with and thus fail to
recognize how absurd the book really is. Second, they don't read the whole book, just
Christ's proposterous visit to the Nephites and the kooky Moroni Promise.
And as someone else pointed out, the Book of Mormon appeals to the underdogs in society. The BoM narratives really resonate with people who feel picked on or feel like outcasts (think Joseph Smith and Ray A). And if these underdogs previously identified with the Bible then the BoM really turns them on. But even then, they rarely join the church unless there are social motivators. The book itself does not convert.
Truly literate people have a hard time reading, enjoying or otherwise being sucked in by the Book of Mormon.
|Subject:||Re: TO ALL RMs: How strong is the power of the Book of Mormon?|
|Date:||Sep 14 19:47|
|In Peru, the BofM had more affect for obvious reasons. I still don't think that it was the main reason that people joined the church. The main reason they joined was still social. The BOM just was one more reason we could give Peruvians to feel special about joining the church "of their ancestors", gag. Many Peruvians spend a great deal of their income on frequent Catholic celebrations that they are obligated to participate in. I found out that a lot of people simply joined the church so they could avoid the expense and alcoholism that went with that. They could use the excuse "it is prohibited by my church". That was a huge issue there. Yes, I think the main reason the people join is for social reasons, not the BOM. They love the Love Bombing and wearing special underwear. In that country connections are everything and connecting with anything from the USA for some is a real drawing point.|
|Subject:||Re: Love bombing?|
|Date:||Sep 15 00:42|
|Love bombing is the term used to describe the technique used by cults to bring in new converts and make them feel a part of the cult. In the begining a new convert has instant friends and invitations and wonders how he/she ever lived outside of this group.|
|Subject:||One True Test|
|Date:||Sep 14 22:14|
|During my mission, nobody read the BOM and converted. A few people
read some of it, but for the most part, nobody read more than a page.
However, when I was about 14, I had a real investigator. A girlfriend at summer camp asked me about my religion. I was tbm, and very sincere. I told her about Moroni's promise, and she bought it. She read and prayed. She came to me a week later, and she felt kind of bad, because she received no answer. She believed moroni's promise, and I think she really wanted to get a "yes" answer.
That experienced bothered me for awhile. I was hurt and I was a bit afraid, but I decided that I was just a kid and I wouldn't really understand god until I was older.
I wonder if anything could have overcome the brainwashing of the morg at that age. I wonder what it would have taken for me to see that the Emperor was naked.
|Subject:||I served a 2-year mission in New England, in the 1970s....|
|Date:||Sep 14 22:20|
|As such, I taught the missionary lessons and had religious discussions with a wide variety of persons: Catholics, evangelical Protestants, liberal Protestants, as well as a fair number of the unchurched. And although I assisted in the baptism of just under 20 persons over the course of my mission, I don't believe a single one of those converts ever made it all the way through the Book of Mormon. Further, I don't think that any of them ever actually made the decision to join the LDS Church because of their reading of the Book of Mormon. Personally, I'm a person who reads widely. I like to read. I'm always in the process of reading 3 to 4 books at any given time. But as I've mentioned in a few other posts on this board, I have always found the Book of Mormon to be almost unreadable. Even as a active, believing Mormon, I did not find it to be inspiring, or at any level comparable in inspiration to the Bible. It reads exactly like it was written by one person, all the way through, and the cardboard characters are all one-dimensionally flat, unlike the characters of the Bible, who have real personalities, with all the complexities of human nature, both good and bad. My final observation (again, as I've posted elsewhere) is that the people who claim to find great meaning, interest, and inspiration in the Book of Mormon are usually (I actually can't think of a single exception, at least in my personal experience) people who don't read very many books.|
|Subject:||I saw abt. 15 baptised in Indiana, none were BoM conversions. nt|
|Date:||Sep 14 23:27|
|Subject:||Looking back I realize that...|
|Date:||Sep 15 00:11|
|...the people are converted to the missionaries or to a group of
friends (a social conversion as has been previously mentioned).
I realize now how utterly pathetic we were. We befriend these people who have nothing in their lives and until transferred we're very interested in how they are doing. Then, except in very rare cases, once transferred we cut off that contact.
I don't remember who said it, but I do remember being told in some church meeting that missionaries are to teach and baptize while members are to fellowship. The missionaries shouldn't cloud their work with investigator/convert friendships.
|Subject:||Where are those gold book of mormons from the 1970's|
|Date:||Sep 15 00:49|
|This is a little off theme but whatever happened to those "Special Edition" Book of Mormon's that came out in the 70's that had a gold foil cover with hieroglyphics? All of us TBMs had to have those. I used to see them in thrift stores etc and now they seem to have vanished. I just wonder if someone had the special assignment of collecting all of them around the world.|
|Subject:||I was a missionary in Asia. I can't recall a single convert who was converted by the BoM.|
|Date:||Sep 15 08:04|
|It was part of the religious package deal they had to accept when
they became Mormons, but I can't recall anyone who talked about the BoM being a source of
inspiration or guidance in their conversion. The converts I knew just seemed to think that
the Church seemed like a good church and took our word for it that the BoM was something
special. The ones who weren't fellowshipped into the church, were persuaded to accept it
because they didn't have enough background knowledge to realize how implausible the
stories the missionaries were peddling were.
On the other hand, I can recall many sincere investigators who took the Moroni test seriously and told us quite frankly that they didn't get any response and couldn't find anything special in the Book of Mormon.
|Subject:||p.s., In fact most of the converts couldn't even finish reading the Book of Mormon.|
|Date:||Sep 15 08:15|
|I recall that we would try to get investigators to finish reading
the Book of Mormon before baptism, but the ones who wanted to join (usually due to
fellowshipping/friendships) would typically confess that they had a hard time getting
through the Book of Mormon because it was "really hard to understand and they were
too busy." Of course, we never let the fact that an investigator hadn't finished
reading the "keystone scriptures of our religion" ever stand in the way of a
baptism. We'd get a token promise that they'd finish reading it later and off to the font
It's not a very impressive track record for a body of scripture that's supposed to be so important that God had it written on golden plates that can only be stored in heaven and used an extraordinary process consisting of angelic visitations and magic stones to produce an English translation in the 1820s.
|Subject:||Nothing so blatant (older book of Mormons use the phrase "White and Delightsome")|
|Date:||Sep 16 12:33|
|...The fact is, the church definitely didn't want to draw too much attention to the changes (about skin color). As I recall, they simply encouraged the faithful to buy plenty of copies of the new printing, with the hope that the copies in circulation would be diluted.|
|Subject:||Real life experiences tell us that the Book of Mormon is a|
|Date:||Sep 16 04:49|
|joke and has none of the mystical Holy Ghost power that Mormons
claim for it. But the myths and unexamined propaganda about the BoM continue to be
accepted without question by TBMs. Every Sunday, there must be dozens of talks like this
that perpetuate the fantasy that the influence of the Book of Mormon is rolling like a mighty stone throughout the world, touching lives and winning converts to the one, true church. That's why Mormon missionaries continue to beat this dead curelom as though it will suddenly rise up and lead them to the kind of baptism statistics that guarantee that they'll be future GAs.
Excerpt from the typical Sac. Mtg. talk linked above:
"The prophets that have written in The Book of Mormon are not the authors of the book, nor is Joseph Smith, who is the translator. The author of the Book of Mormon is none other than God. Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon by the power of God. That book was written for us, we need to learn how to use it. I can illustrate how we know that Joseph Smith had the power of God with him with a story from The Life of Jesus Christ in The New Testament and an event in Church History."
So there you have it, straight from the mouth of a TBM, God is responsible for every grammatical error, every minute of confusion caused by the white/pure flip-flops, the absurdity of Shiz trying to get up and fight after his head was lopped off. All of it is God's work. Apologists who tell us otherwise know that the Church is always speaking with a forked tongue. When speaking to the gullible flock, it will promote the Book of Mormon and all of Church history as pure, spotless and above reproach. When speaking to well-informed doubters, it will speak in the manner of the FARMS people, claiming that doubters are holding the Church and its leaders to a standard of perfection that has never been claimed and that imperfections are the work of imperfect humans just trying to understand God.
|Subject:||No, it's the discussions that gets people|
|Date:||Sep 16 13:31|
|The BOM isn't a great tool for conversion, as everyone has said.
Mark Twain pointed out that it's just a novel too boring to be sold commercially. The
Moroni 10:3-5 is the only part I ever found useful.
The discussions on the other hand are designed to interest people, and arouse their emotions to the point they believe god is telling them to join the church. Another trick to get converts (at least in the U.S. and probably everywhere) is to go after poorer people. When we needed to boost our numbers before reporting to the president we would head to poor apartment buildings where people would surely let us in.
|Subject:||Moroni 10:3-5 doesn't work - BoMs end up in dumpsters|
|Date:||Sep 16 14:40|
|Like others here, I never saw the supposed power of the BoM in
converting investigators. Most people wouldn't even bother to read, so we'd read it with
them. Then we'd tell them to pray about it - Moroni's promise. I can't recall a single
time this worked. How was I so blind as to not even wonder why the promise wasn't working.
We always assumed that the investigator wasn't doing it right.
One day on my mission we can across a man collecting aluminum cans from dumpsters. We started "contacting" him and mentioned the BoM. He said that he had lots of them and showed us a stack. He said that he would find them in dumpsters while looking for cans.