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Radio Free Mormon: 151: Three Dimensional Chess

RFM concludes his three-part series sharing original research into how the narrative of Jesus’s ministry as recorded in the Book of Mormon contains a surprising degree of literary complexity.


13 thoughts on “Radio Free Mormon: 151: Three Dimensional Chess”

    1. I would not be surprised one bit if we do.

      Did you have a particular place in the KFD you were thinking of?


  1. Probably just as well this series is at an end. It comes off a bit as Sunday School. I do not miss Sunday School. This, however, is not the point I would like to make. We need to realize how much JS was a Jacksonian character. During the formative era of his life through the mid 1840’s the country was in the “Jacksonian Era.” Andrew Jackson was a populist. A military hero who came out of the backwoods to set America straight. (again) He preached that the Washingtons, Jeffersons, etc. were “elites.” He wanted to bring the common man back and make him important. He expanded the vote to the common man, not just landowners. Jackson had to come across as a rustic, but was, in fact, a brilliant thinker. Joseph Smith fits in this Jacksonian mold perfectly. He was exactly what American religious seekers were looking for in that era. Joseph Smith was absolutely brilliant in many ways. Fortunately, for him, his wife and mother, and others, supported the rustic farm-boy image. “He couldn’t compose a well-written sentence” according to Emma. Right. I have massive respect for JS as a religious thinker… but he knew exquisitely well his role in the era – and how to play to the crowd. I would not be the least surprised if these elaborate intertwined doctrines referred to in RFM 151 were carefully placed. Believers will say – “No farm-boy could do such an amazing thing.” Right.

    1. This is such an important point you make Swedeguy!

      Joseph Smith was not only a person in his culture. All of us are that.

      But Joseph Smith magnified so many of the important and defining aspects of his culture.

      When I think of early 19th century America, I think of so many legendary characters that were bigger than life, up to and including contemporary Davy Crockett who famously, if not actually, “kil’t him a bar when he was only three.”

      This was the Jacksonian Era, as you point out, that Joseph Smith personified. He was brilliant. He was bigger than life. He had a can-do attitude that unfortunately failed him on many occasions, but ultimately, with the religion he founded, succeeded.

      And I see his theology, especially regarding the eternal progression of humankind, to be another reflection of the Jacksonian Era that Joseph imbued.

      Excellent comments! Thank you for sharing them!


  2. Wow! What an undertaking. Thank you for all the daily treats. I believe that it’s Joseph Smith that should be impressed with you, rather than the other way around. And I’d say your high school advanced english teacher would be just beaming right about about now. I was a star in English and I barely remember those literary formations.

    I couldn’t help hearing the words in my mind that…” a humble farm boy couldn’t have written these things”….why not? We had to do it in highschool. LOL! And I’ll bet you could do it if something of great value to you hung in the balance.

    Can’t wait for Monday to come…hope you’re not burning out. I will enjoy whatever you can do and when it has to slow back down, I will relisten to my faves. Love you:)

    1. Such great memories from Advance Placement English, Angie!

      It was the first one ever in our humble high school, and only in the subject of English, at least at the outset.

      Still not sure how I got into that class. I mainly wanted to be in it because I had friends who had been accepted.

      And yes, Bruce was one of them!

      Bruce was big into statistics. He kept stats on everything, it seemed.

      He even called around after school was out to check in and see what every member of the class had gotten on their A.P. Test.

      There were lots of 3s and fewer 4s. Guess who was the only person in the class to get a 5?

      I hope you got it right because modesty forbids me from saying.

      I will give you a hint–it was the one guy in the class who spent most of his time finding ways to avoid reading the assigned books.

      Bruce was at first disbelieving, and then just perplexed. He still is to this day. Anytime the subject comes out, he insists that he must have gotten a “high 4” and this other student of whom I am speaking must have gotten a “low 5.”

      I think I need to talk about that story tomorrow, since I am going to be mentioning a story about Bruce in relation to General Conference.

      Thanks for the idea!


  3. WOW No No No WOW is not good enough I need a bigger word WOOOOOOOW. I was baptised 24th Feb 1980 along with Christine and our three young boys 14, 12 and 9 the Stake President at the time was already a legend he knew the 4 standard works intimately when he spoke everyone listened in awe, for knowledge he could out Nibley, Nibley, and he often mentioned the Chiasmus in the Book of Mormon even back then. Later in life he served as mission president in Scotland and was Stake Patriarch after his release. He was a formidable Scriptorian but I don’t believe that he spotted the Chiasmus that flowed through several chapters. So well done and thank you for sharing your research from your past. Though we now know the truth about the BOM I agree that it is still an amazing piece of literature.
    Thank you for your words of encouragement which directed me to the Greek Stoic Philosopher Epictetus and his wise words concerning “The first great peril in Life’s journey” which I fully understand and I also know I am on the right track as suggested in the song from Pippin the musical all I have to do now is overcome “The Gravitational Field” as you so wisely put it. I do feel a bit guilty though about burdening you with my problem I am not sure if my comments are appropriate on the Podcast, I read all the other comments and they are interesting and intelligent feedback to you where my comments seem to be more like treating you as my therapist. Please let me know when you tire of my ramblings and I will go back to driving Christine nuts.
    Let me tell you how I see you but first I must liken the Good Ship Mormon to the Titanic the unsinkable ship “Made in Britain” all were encouraged aboard for its maiden voyage “There is no danger that Titanic will sink. The boat is unsinkable and nothing but inconvenience will be suffered by the passengers.”
    Phillip Franklin, White Star Line vice-president, 1912. Words that have gone down in history, for all the wrong reasons. At latitude 41° 43′ 32″ north, longitude 49° 56′ 49″ west, 370 miles (595 kilometres) southeast of Halifax, Nova Scotia, 2.5 miles (4 km) down lays the wreck of the RMS Titanic. The rust-coloured remains rest in two parts, the stern around 2,000 feet (600 metres) from the bow and facing in opposite directions.
    Like wise all are encouraged on board the Good Ship Mormon she is unsinkable the only true church on the face of the earth captained by not one man but 15 all prophets seers and revelators they see the icebergs coming and steer away well before disaster strikes but they missed the torpedo called “Church History” the force of the blast sends me flying overboard but no-one sees me thrashing about in the raging sea as I try to swim away from the sinking ship before it pulls me down with it. I am desperate as I am slowly sucked backwards into a watery grave I hear a cry “Over here, over here. You will be fine. All will be well.” Through the mist and spray a man in a little boat rowing as hard as he can towards me I can see that there is a name on the side of the boat but I can only see the capital letters RFM but as he pulls alongside me and hauls me aboard with super human strength I see the name clearly now “Rescue For Mormons” RFM.
    One last question about “Patriarchal Blessings” a subject no-one seems to discuss too Sacred therefore secret but mine came true in in a big way and does involve what I call the “Miracle of Ramsgate Cemetery”. I just wondered does anyone else have experiences out there of their personal blessing coming true. If you are curious or daft enough to want to know about the miracle in the cemetery then I could email it to you but not without your permission.

    Thank you RFM for all you do much appreciated. One day the wreck of the good ship Mormon may be seen rusting on the bottom of the Ocean but not in my life time I think.

    1. Thanks so much for the great comments, Dave!

      I have to say I think the Good Ship Zion has already hit the iceberg and ready to slip into the cold and silent North Atlantic.

      The only reason there are still people on board who aren’t aware of their precarious situation is because . . . wait for it . . .

      . . . the band is still playing.

      I am also going to have to remember to close out one of the podcasts this week with “You’re on the Right Track.”

      It really is a great song, isn’t it?!


    1. You have no idea how glad I am to hear that since the hot water in the underground bunker just went kerflooey and all I have left is cold.


      Thanks for the heads up!


  4. I love your proposed Chiasmus in 3 Nephi! Although I too find it hard to believe the BOM is ancient, I too find many rich a deep complexities and intricacies like the one you mentioned. There are hundreds like that which makes it even more impressive!

    My favorite 3 resources that share more of those BOM treasure-gems are:

    1. Joseph Spencer – “An Other Testament: On Typology in the Book of Mormon”
    2. Grant Harder – “Understanding the Book of Mormon”
    3. And – The Book of Mormon Central

    As always, I love your outro songs (since I love oldies and rock and roll), and they are so applicable to your episodes!

    And I also like the analogies you often start with the tie into your topic of the day

    1. Thanks, Tony!

      I have to admit one of the best books I have ever read about the Book of Mormon is “Understanding the Book of Mormon.”

      I understand from an interview Grant granted that a lot of the ideas came from his wife!

      1. Yes indeed she is great at noticing those intricacies! If you liked Grant’s book I HIGHLY recommend Joseph Spencer’s book! His insights into the BOM complexities are reeeaally cool 😎

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