Saturday, March 08, 2008

Favorite Moments with My Mormon Friends, Part One

Elder M: Have you ever read the Book of Mormon?

Me: Parts of it. A long time ago.

Elder M: How did you feel as you read it?

Me: I'm going to be honest, but I don't want to offend you. Is that okay?

Elder M: Yes.

Me: Well, I'm a writer. And I have to say that most of the time I was reading the Book of Mormon I was distracted by the way that it appeared that someone was trying to copy the style of the King James Bible--

D (the woman who hosts the elders in our neighborhood): We read from the King James Bible, you know.

Me: I know. What I'm saying is that I was distracted by the fact that it seemed that the style of the Book of Mormon was like someone trying to copy King James English, but not doing a great job of it.

Elder M: You're getting at how there are errors in grammar, things like that. You know, Joseph Smith only had an eighth grade education at the time he translated the Book of Mormon.

Me: How did he translate it exactly?

Elder M: He had two artifacts --

Me: The urim and thummim or something, right?

Elder M: Right. Then God supernaturally translated it, and Joseph Smith told people what to write down.

Me: So you're saying that God basically dictated the translation to Joseph Smith.

Elder M: That's right.

Me: So all the grammar mistakes, those would be God's grammar mistakes?

(A long silence.)

Elder M: That's right.

(I look to Elder J for help. He looks skeptical that the grammar mistakes could be God's grammar mistakes.)

Elder J: That's a good question.