Saturday, May 26, 2007

Chloroform in Print

I had the pleasure of walking by the great Mormon temple across from Lincoln Center on the Upper West Side in Manhattan yesterday. It is, no doubt, a sign of wealth and influence for the Mormons to have such a large and ornate marble church in the heart of New York City.

A day later, today, I was reading the current issue of the New Yorker, and found a mention of Mormonism buried in an article about the insane former leader of Turkmenistan. It was a quote from Mark Twain -- he called the Book of Mormon chloroform in print -- and I was able to find it online. It's from his book Roughing It:
All men have heard of the Mormon Bible, but few except the "elect" have seen it, or, at least, taken the trouble to read it. I brought away a copy from Salt Lake. The book is a curiosity to me, it is such a pretentious affair, and yet so "slow," so sleepy; such an insipid mess of inspiration. It is chloroform in print. If Joseph Smith composed this book, the act was a miracle--keeping awake while he did it was, at any rate. If he, according to tradition, merely translated it from certain ancient and mysteriously-engraved plates of copper, which he declares he found under a stone, in an out-of-the-way locality, the work of translating was equally a miracle, for the same reason.

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