Thursday, December 13, 2018

Prophecy Fulfilled 016

Nephi explained to his brothers that the Lord would raise up a mighty nation among the gentiles in the New World 1 Nephi 22:7. This prophecy uses the phrase "upon the face of this land" in the sense of a large extension of territory up to continental scale. See the article "Face of the Land" for context on the semantic range of meaning this phrase exhibits in the text. After other members of the House of Israel such as the Jews had been scattered worldwide, this mighty nation would scatter the Lamanites with some of Nephi's posterity counted among them. Nephi's angel explained that this mighty nation would be without peer - "above all other nations upon the face of the land" 1 Nephi 13:30. The phrase "face of the land" in this verse is also used in the sense of a large extension of territory up to continental or even planetary scale.

Who was the most powerful gentile nation in the Americas for 329 years (1492 - 1821)? Spain. Who was the most powerful nation on the planet for 151 years (1492 - 1643)? Spain, the House of Habsburg, the western seat of the Holy Roman Empire. Some historians argue for Spanish dominance not just through the Battle of Rocroi (1643), but all the way to the War of Spanish Succession (1714) which would make Spain the most powerful nation in the world for 222 years. In any event, France was ascendant during the reign of Louis XIV (1643 - 1715), the Sun King. 

This is a map of the Spanish Empire aka Hispanic Monarchy aka Catholic Monarchy at its peak.
Territories Once Part of the Spanish Empire
Spain was the world's first global superpower, the first nation able to trade literally around the world. Every other European colonial power (France, England, Denmark, Netherlands) tried to copy Spain's success. Between 1580 and 1640 Spain and Portugal were united in a formidable concentration of power. France followed Spain as the world's most powerful nation and French dominance lasted through 1815 (Waterloo) when England became pre-eminent.

The mighty nation Nephi and the angel prophesied would dominate the Americas, dominate the world, and scatter Lehi's posterity was Spain.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Face of the Land

This article will investigate meanings behind the Book of Mormon terms "face of the land" and "face of the earth" that occur over 125 times in the text. Virtually everyone who closely reads the Nephite record realizes it is highly consistent. Based on that consistency, we will determine these phrases' semantic range.

First, the variants. In the text we find:
  • the face of the land
  • the whole face of the land
  • all the face of the land
  • the face of the earth
  • the face of this land
  • the face thereof
  • the face of all the land
  • the face of the waters
  • much of the face of the land
  • the whole face of the land northward
  • the face of the whole land
  • all the face of this land
  • the whole face of this land
  • the face of the land of promise
  • the face of the whole earth
  • all the face of the earth
  • the face of this earth
  • the face of all the earth
Three senses permeate the usage of these phrases in various contexts. 1) We are dealing with the natural earth rather than man-made entities demarcated by political boundaries, 2) large extensions of territory up to continental or even planetary scale and the implication of wholeness, completeness, and totality, and 3) the land of the living on the surface of the planet rather than the heavens above or the underworld of the dead beneath.
NASA Composite Image of the Western Hemisphere
Examples of the natural earth rather than polities:
  • darkness for the space of three days over the face of the land 3 Nephi 8:3.
  • the whole face of the land was changed 3 Nephi 8:12.
  • no rain upon the face of the earth Ether 9:30.
Examples of large extensions of territory up to continental or even planetary scale:
  • And the people had spread again over all the face of the land Ether 9:26.
  • carnage spread throughout all the face of the land, both on the part of the Nephites and also on the part of the Lamanites Mormon 2:8.
  • the Jews who were scattered upon all the face of the earth 1 Nephi 13:39.
Examples of the land of the living as opposed to other realms:
  • the power of the evil one was wrought upon all the face of the land Mormon 1:19.numb
  • the Lord did pour out his Spirit on all the face of the land Alma 16:16.
  • the Son of God cometh upon the face of the earth Alma 7:9.
With these meanings in mind, we are prepared to interpret passages in the text containing variants of the phrases "face of the land" and "face of the earth." This will allow us to publish Prophecy Fulfilled 016.

Prophecy Fulfilled 015

The Savior prophesied that European gentiles would be established in the Americas as a free people 3 Nephi 21:4. Nephi clarified that the gentile nations in the Americas would have to win their independence on the battlefield, defeating their mother gentiles 1 Nephi 13:17, 18. This prophecy was dramatically fulfilled in 19 countries between 1783 and 1825.

1783 United States of America - British Empire.
1804 Haiti - First French Empire.
1811 Paraguay - Spanish Empire.
1816 Argentina - Spanish Empire.
1818 Chile - Spanish Empire.
1819 Colombia - Spanish Empire.
1821 Venezuela, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Mexico, Panama - Spanish Empire
1822 Ecuador - Spanish Empire
1824 Peru - Spanish Empire
1825 Bolivia - Spanish Empire
1825 Brazil - Portuguese Empire
Diego Rivera Mural of the Grito de Dolores on September 16, 1810
The Mexican case was typical. Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla gave the famous Grito de Dolores near Guanajuato on September 16, 1810. September 16th is celebrated as Mexican Independence Day. The Mexican War of Independence, though, dragged on for 11 years, finally ending on September 27, 1821 with the Treaty of Córdoba. During the long war, 15,000 Mexicans and 8,000 Spaniards were killed, and 450,000 Mexicans were wounded.

Prophecy Fulfilled 014

Nephi uses the curious expression "grind upon the face of the poor" in 2 Nephi 26:20. It is clear from context it is related to elites getting "gain." The expression comes from Isaiah 3:15 cited in 2 Nephi 13:15. Bible Hub is a convenient place to see multiple Bible translations of a single verse. Other renderings of this phrase are:

  • rubbed in the dirt the faces of the poor (Contemporary English Version)
  • take advantage of the poor (Good News Translation)
  • shame the face of the poor (Brenton Septuagint Translation)
  • grind the faces of the afflicted (Darby Bible Translation)
Isaiah chapter 3 is generally interpreted as a condemnation of ancient Judaism which became so corrupt that rather than protecting vulnerable members of society, the rich exploited the poor and the strong exploited the weak (the people shall be oppressed, every one by another, and every one by his neighbor Isaiah 3:5). The predictable result was national poverty (this ruin, in my house are neither bread nor clothing Isaiah 3:6,7).

Developmental economists call this condition "institutional" or "structural poverty" when a permanent overlord class benefits financially by depressing wages for the masses who struggle to survive in a radically unequal society. Economists have a measure of income inequality. They call it the Gini Coefficient. The CIA World Factbook publishes a list of most nations on earth ranked by Gini Index. Most Latin American countries are on the highly unequal end of the scale. As with all images on this blog, click to enlarge.
Countries with Most Unequal Income Distribution
European democracies with generous social safety nets are on the highly equal end of the scale.
Countries with Most Equal Income Distribution
The United States is the most unequal of countries in the middle tier.
Countries in Middle Range of Income Distribution
Furthermore, as most US citizens realize, the United States of America is rapidly becoming much more unequal as the rich get richer and the poor become less self-reliant. Throughout most of its history, though, the US has been quite egalitarian, a true land of opportunity where hard work tended to pay off with upward social mobility. The US also created strong social institutions (churches, schools, local governments) that tended to help the poor who wanted to help themselves.

The reverse was true in Spanish America. Conquistadores exploited natives. Patrones exploited peones. Churches were rapacious, schools largely non-existant, and local governments highly corrupt. Institutional or structural poverty was endemic. Nephi's prophecy was explicitly fulfilled. Only in recent decades have many Latin American countries begun to educate and provide essential services to their most vulnerable. You will notice on the chart above that Argentina and Uruguay now outrank the US with flatter income distributions.

I know a little about developmental economics in the Western Hemisphere. My book, Ending Global Poverty: The Microfranchise Solution, has been translated into multiple languages and downloaded millions of times. I state with some authority that Nephi's prophecy about the gentiles in the New World getting gain by exploiting the poor 2 Nephi 26:20 fits much better in Latin America than it does in the US or Canada.

Prophecy Fulfilled 013

In Canada, American Indians are called "First Nations" and Indian Reservations are known as "Reserves." Canada has established more than 3,100 First Nations Reserves throughout the country. This is a map showing some of them from Alberta to Labrador.
Some of the 3,100+ Canadian First Nations Reserves
In the US, more than 56 million acres are protected in 326 Indian Reservations, Pueblos, etc. established in 41 of the 50 states. This is a map showing many of them:
Many of the 326 Indian Reservations in the US
No such system of protected reservations existed in most of Latin America until recent decades when native American rights have entered public discourse. Indigenous movements in Costa Rica and Argentina are making some headway, but for most of their history the countries of Spanish America did little to protect their natives.

This disparity in the way native Americans were treated in English and Spanish America is relevant to our search for Book of Mormon lands. Samuel the Lamanite prophesied that in the latter times the Lamanites would be driven to and fro, hunted, smitten, scattered abroad, having no place for refuge Helaman 15:12. This prophecy fits in Spanish America. Indian reservations and First Nations reserves in English America directly contradict Samuel's words.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Prophecy Fulfilled 012

The Book of Mormon says in the last days the Lamanites, aka remnant of the house of Jacob, will go forth among the numerous gentiles and be in the midst of them 3 Nephi 20:16. The text further prophesies the Lamanites will be among many different gentile nations 3 Nephi 20:20. It also says the remnant of Jacob will be among and in the midst of the gentiles in a position of power and influence 3 Nephi 21:12.

In the great Latin American diaspora, Lamanites have literally gone forth as minorities among several gentile nations, many are currently living among or in the midst of gentiles, and in the case of Hispanics in the US, Lamanites are beginning to wield considerable power.

The US Census Bureau reports that 57.5 million Hispanics were living in the US in 2016, comprising 17.8 % of the total US population. The Spanish Instituto Nacional de Estadística reports that by 2017 2,473,784 Latin Americans had emigrated to Spain, comprising 5.3% of the total Spanish population. These Latin American emigres are literally fulfilling the prophecies in 3 Nephi 20 & 21.
Guatemalans Living in Spain, from the Spanish Newspaper El Pais

Prophecy Fulfilled 011

The Book of Mormon in several places prophesies that gentiles in America will be numbered among the seed of Lehi or the house of Israel 1 Nephi 14:2, 2 Nephi 10:18-19, 3 Nephi 21:6, 3 Nephi 30:2. The text uses the term "numbered" to refer to membership in the true Church Moroni 6:4, 7. It also uses the term like a modern census taker would - to denote that a person belongs to a certain ethnic or political group Alma 45:13, 3 Nephi 2:14, 16.

This prophecy has been fulfilled in a remarkable way in many Latin American countries where large percentages of the population are mestizos of mixed native American and European ancestry. So, for example, the CIA World Fact Book reports that Guatemala is 60.1% mestizo (aka ladino), Peru is 60.2%, and Mexico is 62% mestizo. Modern mestizos realize they are a new race and culture - neither Amerindian nor European, and they are proud of both legacies. In Latin American countries where mestizos predominate, gentiles are literally numbered among the seed of Lehi, aka remnant of Jacob, in direct fulfillment of 3 Nephi 21:22.
Most Modern Mexicans and Many Latin Americans are Mestizos