Monday, November 19, 2007

How 'bout them Lamanites?

Interesting things are happening among the Lamanites. During the past couple of weeks, the Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News have published several articles on a recent change to the Book of Mormon’s introduction.
Since 1981, the introduction has stated:

After thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are the principal ancestors of the American Indians.

The new introduction to the Book of Mormon will read:

After thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are among the ancestors of the American Indians.

The newspaper articles discuss the new “limited geography” theory now followed by many LDS scholars and F.A.R.M.S. Essentially, the theory goes that Lehi and his family landed on an already inhabited American continent and the Nephites and Lamanites restricted their activities to portions of Central America, which would explain their absence from the general American Indian genetics.

This new change puts the Book of Mormon more in sync with the generally accepted view that humans first entered the Americas from Siberia over the Bering Strait around 15,000 years ago and that the southern most tip of South America was already inhabited by 9000 BCE by peoples of Asiatic descent.

For some, this new change is considered insignificant. In fact, John L. Sorensen, professor emeritus of anthropology at BYU, stated the following in the Deseret News:

I don’t think it means very much for anyone. The assumptions may have been and may be in the minds of some that the previous phrasing had substance to it. As a matter of fact, it was a sheer accident of someone – probably (Elder) Bruce McConkie – regarding "principal ancestors." No one checked it or questioned it, so it was put in the introduction.

Others, however, are very upset over the change. Some argue that they have always been taught that Lehi is the father of all the ancient inhabitants of the Americas and the new change, however minor, directly contradicts that teaching. Several returned missionaries posted comments on the newspapers’ website message boards. Many stated that they spent two years “among the Lamanites” in Central and South America teaching that the Book of Mormon was a record of their “ancestors,” a teaching that they now feel would be considered misleading.

Personally, I just want to know how this change affects the Church’s stance on green tea.

Being married to a registered dietitian and the son of a two time cancer survivor, I have become a self-proclaimed connoisseur of Antioxidants. I only have to nibble a pomegranate to immediately feel those little buggers vigorously fighting all my body’s nasty cell-damaging free radicals. (I actually have no idea what a “free radical” is but the article on Wikipedia made them sound scary.)

Needless to say, green tea is extremely high in Antioxidants and despite a Church talk or two about scientific evidence confirming the harms of alcohol, tobacco, coffee and tea, I haven’t found a single scientific study that speaks negatively of our Chinese buddies’ favorite tasty beverage.

So if DNA and archaeological evidence causes a slight paradigm shift in how we view the Book of Mormon, maybe the latest research coming out of Yale University School of Medicine and Men’s Health will soon be cause to trade in that diet coke for a guiltless cup of green tea.

On Crime Fiction

Whenever I go out, kids always ask me, “Tyson, what should we be reading?” Of course, I have to ask them, “Well, what’s your favorite genre?” If they tell me crime fiction, I tell them, “go buy the latest Michael Connelly.” “Detective Harry Bosch never disappoints,” I usually add.

But when they tell me they prefer their crime fiction hardboiled, I tell them to jump back sixty years right into a cold hard serving of Raymond Chandler’s pulp fiction.

Now, I'm not here to argue that Chandler’s Philip Marlow is a better detective than ole’ Harry Bosch, but I will say this: Phillip Marlowe is quite a dick. (Hey, that’s what they used to call detectives, I promise.) This particular dick, like Harry Bosch, generally kept to solving crimes in the streets of Los Angeles.

I tell people I grew up in Los Angeles (with a cough over the “County”). So I have an affinity for any story that unfolds there. But even those who never walked over the sawdust covered floors of Philippe’s or stood in the very spot where James Dean scuffled with the bully Buzz Gunderson at the Griffith Observatory, can't help but fall in love with prose like this:

She got up slowly and swayed towards me in a tight black dress that didn’t reflect any light. She had long thighs and she walked with a certain something I hadn’t often seen in bookstores. She was an ash blonde with greenish eyes, beaded lashes, hair waved smoothly back from the ears in which large jet buttons glittered. Her fingernails were silvered. In spite of her get-up she looked as if she would have a hall bedroom accent.

She approached me with enough sex appeal to stampede a businessmen’s lunch and tilted her head to finger a stray, but not very stray, tendril of softly glowing hair. Her smile was tentative, but could be persuaded to be nice.

The Big Sleep, 1939.

That dick’s right about one thing – you don’t often see that certain something in bookstores. Unless, of course, you’re lucky enough to be there with Eliza.

End of an Era

It's a sad day in the Hamilton home . . . well, let's be honest, it's a sad day for me. Eliza couldn't quite handle the Bing or Tony's mouth and Jacky still quite hasn't figured out Baby Einstein yet.

Unfortunately for me, we don't have HBO. That means I have to wait and Netflix what are in my opinion about the only shows worth watching anymore.

Tonight I finished the final season of The Sopranos. And I have to say, I loved it. I'm completely satisfied. Does Carlo actually make it to the trial to testify? Were those two gangstas in Holstein's going to take Tony out? Was the shady guy headed to the bathroom going to get a gun duct-taped to the back of a toilet? Does Paulie's prostate get him in the end?

But as satisfied as I was with the finale, it brings a crocodile tear to my eye to think that I'll never see anything new at the end of "Woke Up One Morning" when Tony slams that Chevy's door.