Alright, I didn’t actually win the internet. Several people told me I did, so I looked into it, and there’s no such contest. No prize to claim, no oversized check, not even a Starbucks gift card. But I did manage to strike a chord with a certain corner of the internet, at least, even if I still have to buy my own coffee.
We’ve Always Been at War With Eastasia
If you’re not Mormon, you might have noticed a news story last week explaining why the LDS Church released pictures of an egg-shaped rock. If you did notice, you probably shrugged.
If you are Mormon, you noticed. And your Facebook feed blew up. And you either freaked out or you didn’t. But you probably didn’t.
Joseph Smith’s relationship with folk magic isn’t exactly new information, but now that the Church has made it Facebook official, a lot of Mormons are having to deal with it for the first time. The fallout has sparked an Orwellian struggle between Mormons who didn’t know about the seer stone and Mormons who did. Collectively, we’re trying to exchange one set of facts we always knew for a new set, which, of course, we always knew.
I’m not sure what other powers the seer stone has, but so far it seems to have neutralized our ability to show compassion. In discussions across the internet, those who were surprised by the disclosure find themselves being blamed, rather than supported: If you didn’t know Joseph Smith dictated the Book of Mormon with a stone (and his face) in a hat, you’ve only got yourself to blame. The information was out there — it isn’t the Church’s fault you got the wrong idea.
Yes, some Mormons curse like 90-year-old Brits, and I call malarkey on anyone who wants to blame faithful Mormons for not knowing the way the Book of Mormon was actually written.
Sure, there are a handful of official documents that mentioned the face-in-the-hat technique, but these are isolated needles buried within haystacks that have been carefully arranged by Church gatekeepers.
Needle: 150 words from a 38-year-old article in an official Church magazine.
Haystack: 150 years of sermons, art, film production, and culture that celebrate a striking, blue-eyed demigod reading from gold plates the way a third-grader reads Harry Potter. (Which is to say, not with a rock in a hat.)
Plot twist: You don’t even know there is a needle to look for until someone blames you for not finding it.
The Way the Internet Was Won
Of course, most Mormons, whether they knew about the seer stone or not, didn’t freak out last week. As ever, all is well in Zion, and we’re on board with whatever the Church is saying. What is there to talk about?
Those of us who think there is something to talk about have seen a lot of confusion, betrayal, and, sometimes, humor. When a Facebook friend posted a “play in one act” in which key Mormon characters realize their efforts to deliver the golden plates were trumped by a stone, it made me wonder: What if key personalities were on Facebook, reacting to the seer stone announcement along with the rest of us? A few minutes later, I uploaded an imagined conversation that would make a lot of people laugh and win me my very first internet.
The Graphic, Corrected and Explained
This image is an updated version of the original I shared on Imgur. Here are the changes I made.
First, like some kind of Mormon n00b, I used the wrong Moroni painting for his profile picture. Captain Moroni isn’t the same as Moroni’s Promise Moroni. Duh.
Second, I got Laman’s profile picture wrong, for a different reason. I like this one much better.
Third, people asked me to censor Nephi’s last post even more so they could share it with friends and family. (It’s too late for me — once you know it says “flipping” there’s no way to un-see it.)
Last, I added my Twitter account, because the more I write the more I realize how much I like connecting with new people — especially when I can connect from behind a keyboard.
I’m also realizing how much some people like to question my motives. Maybe you don’t like my sense of humor, or maybe you think I’m trying to build a tribe, or damage the Church, or justify my unorthodox ways, and so on.
But really, I just wanted to help people laugh about this seer stone thing. I hope it worked.
Want to read more? Try The Long Letter: An Introduction to the Things I Wish I Didn’t Have to Explain to My Mormon Son. You can also find me on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.