Thoughts on the Tower of Babel


I was brought up Catholic, and as part of our catechism lessons, we learned the stories of the Bible. One of the most interesting to me was the story of the Tower of Babel. God, upset at the pridefulness and rebellion of those building the tower, decides to confuse their language as a punishment. And quite an effective punishment it is! When no one can understand each other, it's pretty hard to do much organized activity at all.

The way the story is told/understood in a conventional sense is that God zaps them everybody day and they are all speaking different languages. Lately, however, I've been wondering if it went down a bit differently than we've believed. As someone living in the '20s, I wonder if the people themselves lost the commonality of their language, and God didn't have to do much at all. Consider this way of looking at it that I stumbled across today:




























It certainly seems we are headed down the same path as those at the Tower of Babel, and we seem to be doing a great job of destroying our language all by ourselves. And this extreme state of affairs not only make comprehension impossible, it also makes organized activity impossible as well.

I am also reminded of the verses in Helaman, where Nephi tells the people about the murder of their chief judge and how the judge's brother was the murderer. You might expect that after this amazing scene, the people would take some action; do something. But no, they cannot decide if Nephi is a god or a prophet or a fool or what. Helaman 10:1 records that "There arose a division among the people, insouch that they divided hither and thither and went their ways, leaving Nephi alone, as he was standing in the midst of them." Everyone just went their own way because they was no common understanding of what had just transpired. So no collective action was possible, and they all just walked away, leaving Nephi just standing there.

I fear that we, too, are entering into a time period where there is no longer a common basis for understanding each other. As a result, even attempts at dialogue seem futile, and organized action seems completely impossible. I despair of how this all ends for our country, for it means that the people are broken and scattered. Intelligibility will be the privilege of very circumscribed groups. Perhaps the Church will be one of those groups where language has not been so devastatingly corrupted. I hope that will be true . . . But that means that Church members will increasingly be speaking a language that no one else speaks.