FARMS Deserves Credit for Finding Bin Laden

May 7, 2011

Sources close to the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Studies (formerly known as FARMS) reveal that Mormon apologists played a “pivotal” role in the hunt and eventual capture of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

“Everyone knows the trail had gone cold, and the CIA, DIA, and every other military and government agency was getting frustrated,” said a NAMIRS staffer who wished to remain anonymous for fear of becoming a target for terrorism. “When they need the big boys, they call us.”

The staffer went on to explain that the search for Bin Laden entered a new phase, just as the search for Lamanite evidence had reached a turning point in the last 20 years or so.

“It became pretty clear that we weren’t going to find the Book of Mormon in ancient America, so we decided to start looking for ancient America in the Book of Mormon,” said the source. “Once we stopped looking for, you know, actual archaeological, anthropological, and other scientific evidence, we started seeing all kinds of evidence in the text itself.

“Look at the parallels! Once you discount obvious anomalies and mistranslations such as horses, chariots, and steel swords, it’s overwhelming! The text mentions towers and pyramids and cement! And, how on earth could Joseph Smith have guessed that a king would sit on an ornate ceremonial throne? Such obvious hits are difficult to explain unless you accept the most parsimonious explanation: that an angel brought golden plates for Joseph to translate with a rock in a hat. There simply is no other logical explanation.”

Asked how this work translated into the successful hunt for Bin Laden, the staffer smiled and explained, “The government was looking for Bin Laden in the ‘real’ world, a mistake, as I’ve explained. We showed them how to look for Bin Laden in his writings, and that’s where the breakthrough occurred.”

Analyzing hundreds of press releases and video/audio recordings of Bin Laden, NAMIRS staffers discovered something amazing: Bin Laden wasn’t actually writing or speaking the text; the text was a cipher key intended to develop a “pure Arabic,” like that of Adam, by which the terrorists could communicate in a higher sphere.

“It was amazing! The Lord had prepared us to crack the ‘Bin Laden Code’ by leading us to work out the meaning of the Kirtland Egyptian Papers. The similarities were uncanny and intuitively evident to everyone involved.” The staffer added, “While the CIA was busy poring over satellite images, we were doing the real work.”

NAMIRS researchers discovered a surprising complexity in the terrorist leader’s written and spoken communiques. Bin Laden’s rambling audiotapes revealed that there are at least three “degrees” of meaning in the terror leaders words. A sample paragraph from a 2006 audio tape is illustrative. Speaking of the American soldier, Bin Laden says:

So, he is between two bitter situations, something which puts him under psychological pressure – fear, humiliation, and coercion. Moreover, his people are careless about him. So, he has no choice but to commit suicide.

The first phrase, “he is between two bitter situations” shows the first degree, indicating the person, or in short “who.” The second phrase, “something which puts him under psychological pressure – fear, humiliation, and coercion,” gives the second degree, indicating the subject, or “what.” The third degree, “Moreover, his people are careless about him. So, he has no choice but to commit suicide,” illustrates confusion in person and purpose, or in summary, “I don’t know.”

Working from this, NAMIRS scholars were able to come up with a cipher key, as follows:

Person = Who = First
Subject = What = Second
Confusion = I don’t know = Third

Through painstaking archival research and wordprint studies over many months, leading apologists were able to pinpoint Bin Laden’s location through this key reconstruction of the cipher: “Who’s on first, what’s on second, and I don’t know’s on third.”

“Like a laser beam, we focused right in on Lou Costello,” said the staffer. “At one point we thought we had him, dead to rights, in Tustin, California.”

Resident Joel Ericson of Costello Drive, in Tustin, confirms that he had awakened one morning to find his house surrounded by what he describes as a “rabid group of middle-aged guys in white shirts and ties. Totally creeped me out.”

Further research into the Costello connection was equally fruitless, until an alert NAMIRS volunteer retraced his steps and discovered that it was Costello’s straight man who had uttered the cryptic lines: “There it was, right in front of us: Abbottabad; it couldn’t be any place else.”

“We wasted no time and tried everything we could to alert the White House, the CIA, and the military. We thought they had just blown us off, but the successful raid tells us otherwise.”

When asked for comment, a CIA spokesman said, “Mormons? You are kidding, aren’t you?”

NAMIRS staffers took the government denials in stride. “Of course they have to deny it. It’s still classified information. Someday the world will know that we had a big part in winning the war on terror, just as we quietly caused the collapse of the Soviet empire and the fall of the Iron Curtain. Until then, we can rest on the satisfaction of a job well done.”

A little personal note

May 6, 2011

I haven’t been writing as regularly as I would have liked for a few months, mostly because I’ve had some health issues. Nothing terminal, but enough to make it difficult to find time to write. I’m doing OK, and I have decided that writing is therapeutic for me, so I’m going to do it, no matter how I feel. I appreciate the kindness and good wishes people have sent my way. It helps.

God’s Lottery and “Dr.” Coontz

May 6, 2011

I swear, I can’t go more than a day or two without seeing “Author/Financial Teacher” “Dr” Todd Coontz. Of course, that may be because my cable company has a crapload of religious channels, and “Dr” Todd is on most of them, begging the righteous to send him money. Heck, he’s even on Twitter. And, as I’ve written about before, there’s his semi-literate web site.

Last night while flipping through the channels I stumbled across a different RockWealth Ministries video from the one I was familiar with. It was the same Toddster, this time sporting a pinstriped suit and designer glasses (for some reason, he looks to me like the love-child of Jimmy Swaggart and Walter Sobchak). In his new video, he did something I’ve seen other religious charlatans do before: he said that he wasn’t asking just anyone for money, but he was speaking only to those who “reckuhnahzz” God’s spirit and know that He wants Todd to upgrade from an S-Class to a Bentley (OK, I made that last part up). But it’s an appeal to a sort of spiritual vanity: you are one of the special, chosen people who “gets” it, who knows and trusts God. And, of course, what does God want from His chosen few? He wants money for Todd. Skepticism is for chumps; only the most righteous will get out their Visa cards.

This isn’t too far off from something I’ve heard argued in behalf of Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism. The prophet taught that whatever God commands is right, no matter what it is. It is up to us to overcome our own pride and hesitation and do what He wants for us. When Joseph said this, he was, unlike Brother Coontz, not asking for money; no, he was propositioning nineteen-year-old Nancy Rigdon to be one of his plural wives. Of course, he expected her to keep their relationship a secret so that wicked people (such as his legal wife, Emma) would not thwart the plans of the Almighty. For some Mormon apologists, this is the ultimate test God has for us: conquer our consciences and do what we are told. If we can do this, we will have proven ourselves true disciples of God.

At this point in my life, I see a common thread between Dr. Todd and Brother Joseph: God wants you to give His servants the things they want, such as money and sex. Coming out and saying, “I would like more money” or “I’d like to have sex with more than one woman” is not as effective as suggesting that those who help them get sex and money are somehow more spiritual, more righteous, more deserving of blessings than the unwashed masses. It’s a seductive message, and it seems to work. It doesn’t hurt that Todd is promising “supernatural wealth transfer” to those who give to him: plant a seed, and you’ll reap financial rewards.

He seems to like this “seed” metaphor, and there are some unintentional sexual double-entendres going on around his web site. For example, he calls 2011 “The year of releasing!” I suppose that Joseph Smith could have called 1842 or 1843 years of releasing, as he managed to sow his seed with more than a few women. Of course, one difference is that Todd believes sowing seeds will “conceive” whereas Joseph Smith is known only to have conceived three children with his plural wives (though only one is well-documented).

One more thing that struck me in visiting the Toddinator’s web site. Check out these different levels of seed-giving:

Is it just me, or do these look awfully similar to these?

They say that the lottery is a tax on people who can’t do math. Maybe “Dr” Todd’s ministry is a lottery for the gullible. Only, if it were a real lottery, someone might actually win once in a while. Come to think of it, “Dr” Todd wins every time.

Jump? How high? More on the LDS church and immigration

May 3, 2011

Interesting piece the other day in the Provo Herald:

Immigration and Religion
They note, as I did in an earlier post, that the church’s position on immigration is so far from the position of right-wing members that it could potentially cause a “schism” (their word, not mine) among members. But they include a timeline of events that shows clearly how most people in the church will adjust their positions to align with the church’s position, no matter how passionately they feel about it.

• Two weeks ago, Salt Lake County Republicans held a convention of delegates. On the agenda was a proposed resolution calling for the repeal of HB 116, the immigration reform bill passed by the Utah Legislature creating a permit system that would allow illegal immigrants to work legally within the state.

The repeal resolution was introduced late in the evening, after many delegates had gone home. The remaining delegates tended to be anti-immigrant, and the measure passed.

• A few days later, the LDS Church issued a formal statement on its website stating clearly that it approved of the philosophical underpinnings of HB 116. It went on to say that its position on immigration reform was being “distorted” by opponents of the bill, and that it would speak further if necessary.

We suppose the church thought its position had been made clear enough by the attendance of Presiding Bishop H. David Burton at the signing ceremony.

• Two days after the church’s statement was released, the executive committee of the Utah County Republican Party considered the repeal resolution. It failed by a 2-1 margin.

• Shortly thereafter, Republican delegates in Davis County met in convention. The repeal resolution failed by roughly the same margin.

• Then Republicans in Weber County met in convention. They refused to allow the repeal resolution to be introduced.

Now the word on the street is that Republicans in Salt Lake County desperately want a redo. Their timing in passing the repeal resolution was, well … awkward.

In Provo on Tuesday night a town hall meeting was held for delegates of Senate District 16 — Sen. Curt Bramble’s district. Many delegates were in attendance, including a number who have opposed the LDS Church’s stand — Keri Witte, Rep. Chris Herrod of Provo and others. Given the opportunity to learn details of the new law by asking questions of Bramble (HB 116’s chief architect), not a single question was asked.

The silence was deafening. Up to now, the anti-immigrant agitators have held that the LDS Church had left plenty of philosophical room for good Mormons to oppose HB 116.

Herrod, an ardent advocate of an “enforcement” approach, has stood in opposition to the LDS Church on a regular basis and in fact was the point person for repeal at the Utah County executive committee meeting. But not Tuesday. On Tuesday he was silent.

I support the church’s position on HB116 and other common-sense approaches to immigration, but I am fascinated by how this has all played out.