WaPo Misses Point on Book of Mormon
WaPo now turns its attention to the Book of Mormon. Justin Moyer provides an unsubstantial review
for a new book by Paul C. Gutjahr, "The Book of Mormon: A Biography." This short review reveals an obvious distaste towards Mormonism
. A book review isn't really a big deal, but how Mormonism is treated in the media is.
First two sentences of the review:
Outsiders may be skeptical of a holy book written on gold plates unearthed in an Upstate New York field by a migrant farmer almost 200 years ago, but the Book of Mormon is here to stay. “While the book stands as an important artifact in the study of the American history and culture, it is no less important as a contemporary religious text with global influence,” writes Paul C. Gutjahr in “The Book of Mormon,” a “biography” of the scripture found by Joseph Smith and believed to be the word of God by 14 million people and one presidential candidate.
Really? A book treasured by over 14 million people and counting is here to stay? Where is the addition that Mormons also believe the Bible to be the word of God? And of course Moyer has to include a reference to Mitt Romney but leave Harry Reid out of it. "Skeptical" may be an appropriate word to use, but would you see the founding of Islam or Judaism or their holy books referred to in this way? I doubt it. I credit Jason Horowitz at WaPo for that idea, who reported on the Romney campaign's method of judging the appropriateness of media coverage on Mormonism.
Here's another sentence:
Unlike Mormon exposes such as Jon Krakauer’s
“Under the Banner of Heaven,” Gutjahr’s slim volume doesn’t delve much into polygamy or baptism of the dead, controversial practices not found in Smith’s original text.
Naturally, WaPo and its journalists like to bring up books who delve into issues that make Mormons different. Why else include this sentence while reviewing a book that doesn't dwell on these topics and bring up a more obviously anti-Mormon book instead? Continuing:
While some of Gutjahr’s claims stretch credulity — does the musical comedy “Book of Mormon” by the creators of “South Park” really prove that the book has “finally escaped the confines of strictly religious discourse”? — it’s refreshing to read a nonpartisan book about Mormonism.
The Book of Mormon itself is nonpartisan, just as the LDS Church is nonpartisan. I don't expect Moyer to have read the Book of Mormon, even though apparently he reads and reviews books about it. Assuming that Moyer used "nonpartisan" as "unbiased" his statement makes sense. Books about Mormonism or the Book of Mormon tend to be strongly biased for or against.
I haven't read Gupjahr's biography but I'll hazard a guess that you're better off reading the Book of Mormon itself if you're looking to form an unbiased opinion about it. Don't judge a book by what's written about it.
Similarly if you're looking for accuracy or a complete picture regarding the translation and content of the Book of Mormon, rather than a lack of obvious bias, turn to the Church itself. Here is the information provided by the LDS Church about the Book of Mormon. From mormon.org:
The Book of Mormon is the word of God, like the Bible. It is Holy Scripture, with form and content similar to that of the Bible. Both books contain God's guidance as revealed to prophets as well as religious histories of different civilizations. While the Bible is written by and about the people in the land of Israel and surrounding areas, and takes place from the creation of the world until shortly after the death of Jesus Christ, the Book of Mormon contains the history and God’s dealings with the people who lived in the Americas between approximately 600 BC and 400 AD. The prophets in the Book of Mormon recorded God's dealings with His people, which were compiled by a prophet named Mormon onto gold plates.
Before these faithful Christians perished, their record was safely hidden away. Joseph Smith obtained these ancient records in 1827, and with the gift and power of God, Joseph was able to translate the ancient writings into what we have today. The Book of Mormon, along with the Bible, testifies that Jesus Christ is our divine Redeemer and that by living according to His gospel we can find peace in this life and eternal happiness in the life to come.
This succinct description may be supplemented by using the link provided above, Mormon Newsroom, Joseph Smith and the Restoration, Joseph Smith: History, and the Introduction to the Book of Mormon which includes the accounts of eyewitnesses.
If we're going to pay attention to Mormonism nation-wide, we might as well do it right by getting accurate information from the LDS Church or from people who don't have a vested interest in tearing down the Church and its teachings. Do not include the liberal media. Accuracy doesn't fit their template for their relentless campaign against Mitt Romney.