Now I’m not talking about the disastrous appointment of Betsy DeVos, though I believe that to be a huge problem that will damage our schools. Perhaps the current situation is why I was struck by a verse in the Book of Mormon during my reading this week.
I’m currently trudging my way through the Isaiah chapters in 2 Nephi, and if anyone has read the Bible or Book of Mormon, you know just how tedious that is. The verse in question, however, is not from one of those Isaiah-plagiarized chapters. The verses I’m talking about are 2 Nephi 9:28-29. You can look them up if you wish, but here’s what they say:
28: O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish.
29: But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God.
Between those two verses there are eleven footnotes. Eleven. This is on one of those pages that’s split in half, the bottom of which is all footnotes. And we’ll be getting to a couple of them in just a minute.
There’s a motivational speaker within the Church that speaks to the youth. He’s very popular, and I bought a few of his talks on CD when I was going through a struggle of faith nearly ten years ago. In one of these talks he speaks about education, and how typically when one becomes more educated they grow away from their faith, but not so with the Mormons.
When I went to college, I was given a blessing from my dad, and in it he advised me that I would hear conflicting ideas but that I would be able to separate out the truth. (This was a point about the “Young Earth” and evolution.)
Now for a church that likes to claim that it’s members are better educated than the average population, this verse literally had me saying “What?” out loud as I read it. One of the footnotes is on the word learned in verse 28, and it points you to the topical guide (one of the indexes behind the Mormon Bible) on Education. The next footnote is on wise just a couple words later, and it says “TG Pride; Wisdom.”
So I would say we could read that as, “When they are Educated they think they have wisdom.”
I suppose that given the author of this book, having been a farmer with only a third-grade education, wouldn’t want anyone reading it to spend too much time on education, as the educated are less likely to be manipulated. A little cynical, perhaps, but when the condemnation of learning is in the Church’s holy text, it certainly doesn’t look good.