Monday, June 23, 2014

I am Vengeance! I Am The Night! I Am Teancum!

Sometimes when you read the Book of Mormon, you discover fun things. Like Batman.

Okay, let's set the scene. We have the good guys, namely the Nephite army led by Captain Moroni, Helaman leading the band of Strippling Warriors, and Pahoran acting as Chief Judge over all the land of the Nephites. Over the last several years, they have fought the Lamanites in a bloody and ferocious war. Even worse, a group of Nephite dissenters, led by a man named Amalekiah, continually rile them up and incite hatred towards their former bretheren. The battles go on, the Lamanites taking one city, the Nephites decimating them and taking back their land, then the Lamanites take whole swath of cities. And the battles go on.

And sometimes you buy cereal because it has the Justice League on it.
For more details, read Alma 45-62
One of the great captains of the Nephite armies is Teancum. He is so skilled and decisive that when the Lamanites know a city is protected by him, they do not dare attack it. Teancum does not like the war and bloodshed the Lamanites have forced him into, but he stands firmly for the values set forth by the Title of Liberty. He will protect his country, his religion, his family, and sometimes he goes out of his way to do so. After one battle in Alma 51, he and a servant sneak over to the Lamanites' camp and seek out their leader, Amalekiah.

"And it came to pass that when the night had come, Teancum and his servant stole forth and went out by night, and went into the camp of Amalickiah; and behold, sleep had overpowered them because of their much fatigue, which was caused by the labors and heat of the day.

"And it came to pass that Teancum stole privily into the tent of the king, and put a javelin to his heart; and he did cause the death of the king immediately that he did not awake his servants." (Alma 51:33-34)

      <But Batman doesn't kill people!>

What is this? Lights, Camera, Lopez!? The analogy's not perfect. Give me a minute.

With Amalekiah assassinated by Teancum, the Lamanite forces appoint his brother Ammoron in his stead and the war continues for several more years. The Lamanites take even more land and prisoners, the Nephites fight back, dissenters in the Nephite capital cause even more problems for the armies, and contentions drag on and on and on.

Until Teancum gets tired of it all.He's worn out. He's exhausted, starved, tired, stressed out, and more than anything, he is angry. Angry at he destruction and death and disaster he has witnessed. All of it caused by Amalekiah and continued by Ammoron. Alma 62:35 tells us, "And thus they did encamp for the night. For behold, the Nephites and the Lamanites also were weary because of the greatness of the march; therefore they did not resolve upon any stratagem in the night-time, save it were Teancum; for he was exceedingly angry with Ammoron, insomuch that he considered that Ammoron, and Amalickiah his brother, had been the cause of this great and lasting war between them and the Lamanites, which had been the cause of so much war and bloodshed, yea, and so much famine."

What does he do? The next verse says, "And it came to pass that Teancum in his anger did go forth into the camp of the Lamanites, and did let himself down over the walls of the city. And he went forth with a cord, from place to place, insomuch that he did find the king; and he did cast a javelin at him, which did pierce him near the heart. But behold, the king did awaken his servants before he died, insomuch that they did pursue Teancum, and slew him."

Why did Teancum's strategy not work the second time around?

There are five things that make it incredibly difficult to resist temptation – but not impossible. They are when we're tired, bored, angry, alone, and/or hungry. Teancum suffered from at least three of these, maybe four. Like many many humans before him, he succumbed. I get this impression that if Teancum hadn't sought Ammoron's life, the Lamanites would have been defeated anyway, so he ended up making a rash decision that cost him his life.

Apart from the grappling cables, Batman shares the same anger and frustration Teancum felt. In the film Batman Begins, Bruce Wayne feels weighed down with grief over his parents' murders and anger at the murderer getting released from prison early just so the DA's office has a chance to arrest a bigger thug. He decides he has to get vengeance. If one of Carmine Falcone's minions hadn't killed Joe Chill, Bruce would have done it himself. In doing so, he would have lost the rest of his life to prison and his soul to the dark side.

Rachel Dawes later shares some very wise words with her lifelong friend. Vengeance and Justice are never the same. Vengeance is motivated by rage and anger and only serves to satisfy our own feelings. Justice is making things equal with God or The Law; it puts aside our own desires out of the equation. Alma 42:22 tells us, "But there is a law given, and a punishment affixed, and a repentance granted; which repentance, mercy claimeth; otherwise, justice claimeth the creature and executeth the law, and the law inflicteth the punishment; if not so, the works of justice would be destroyed, and God would cease to be God."

Batman and Teancum went about things in a reverse order. Bruce Wayne acted out of anger and tried to achieve a false form of justice alone. But he learns his lesson, puts his anger in check, and involves his servant, Alfred, in his quest for justice. Teancum took a servant with him to execute justice upon Amalekiah in an effort to mitigate further bloodshed. Later, he went alone and angry to execute vengeance upon Ammoron, and died in the process.

Now, was Teancum not supposed to do this? I feel like the answer is no because it seems he lost The Lord's protection the second time around. But Mormon says of him, "Now it came to pass that when Lehi and Moroni knew that Teancum was dead they were exceedingly sorrowful; for behold, he had been a man who had fought valiantly for his country, yea, a true friend to liberty; and he had suffered very many exceedingly sore afflictions. But behold, he was dead, and had gone the way of all the earth." (Alma 62:37)

The takeaway from all this is: (1) Read the Book of Mormon, and (2) If you are angry about anything, take a deep breath first, and remember that vengeance is best served cold and by The Lord

1 comment:

  1. I've been scratching my head for ages thinking of a good Batman post! AND YOU HAVE THREE?!?! Talk about Awesome!