Sunday, September 3, 2017

Salt Lake City nurse roughly arrested for following Supreme Court decision - Payne and the Book of Mormon's Nephi

The story has been in the headlines for days now with amazing staying power. It's the story of Salt Lake City police detective Jeff Payne's rough arrest of nurse Alex Wubbels for refusing to let him draw blood from an unconscious crash victim. Without regard to the facts of the religious background of Payne, the parallels of the story with the beloved LDS scriptural story of Nephi and the Plates of Laban are striking.

I hope I am remembering right reading in one article that Payne's superior reportedly sent him to get the sample with the admonition not to return without it.

All this, coming from Salt Lake City, led me irresistibly to muse on an alternate (or not) reality in which Jeff Payne is a Latter-day Saint who was raised reading, hearing, reciting a key passage (1 Nephi 3:7) from, singing songs about (see below), and watching cartoon conceptions of a beloved Book of Mormon story from 1 Nephi chapters 3 and 4. In the story, Nephi's father tells him to return three days journey from desert flight to Jerusalem to get Jewish scriptures on brass plates from Laban. Nephi's mission goes wrong, and he ends up beheading and impersonating Laban to get the plates.

Then (in this hypothetical reality) on July 27, Payne's boss at the police department tells him to run down to the hospital and not to come back without a sample of blood from a crash victim. Once at the hospital, an immovable nurse shows Payne the hospital policy with the Supreme Court decision about unconscious people being inaccessible for blood samples without a search warrant. Then she gets a colleague on the phone who tells Payne he's making a huge mistake. At this point our hypothetical Payne recalls all his imaginations of Nephi's righteous resolve. And as Nephi accomplished what he was commanded by beheading the unconsciously drunk Laban with Laban's own sword, Payne physically overpowers Wubbels, takes her outside, and handcuffs her.

In the moment of the arrest (in this hypothetical reality with no reference to fact, but only to imagination), this is the story that Payne remembers:
600 years before Christ, in the days of Jeremiah the prophet, an aging and wealthy trader named Lehi lived in Jerusalem with his wife and children. He would eventually have 6 sons whose names reflect the traverse of his life, from Laman and Lemuel, with Arabic names from his rough and ready trading days as a young man, to Nephi and Sam, with Egyptian names from the heady days of his trading business with the superpower of their world, to the as yet unborn Jacob and Joseph, with Jewish names from his final years of mysticism.
Lehi was warned in a dream of the impending destruction of Jerusalem and fled to the Red Sea with his family to camp at a wadi 3 days away. While camping, Nephi had great visions and Lehi had a dream "in the which the Lord hath commanded me that thou and thy brethren shall return to Jerusalem."
"3 For behold, Laban hath the record of the Jews and also a genealogy of my forefathers, and they are engraven upon plates of brass."
"4 Wherefore, the Lord hath commanded me that thou and thy brothers should go unto the house of Laban, and seek the records, and bring them down hither into the wilderness."
"5 And now, behold thy brothers murmur, saying it is a hard thing which I have required of them; but behold I have not required it of them, but it is a commandment of the Lord.
"6 Therefore go, my son, and thou shalt be favored of the Lord, because thou hast not murmured.
"7 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them." (1 Nephi 3:2-7)
Nephi and his reluctant brothers return to Jerusalem. After a series of mishaps including trying to buy the plates from Laban with Lehi's trading wealth, Nephi goes it alone by night, finds Laban unconscious on the street, and reluctantly obeys the insistent and reasoned prompting of the Spirit to behead Laban with his own sword, then impersonate him to get the plates, which, along with the sword, become a holy relic among Nephi's posterity for the next 1000 years.
The Lord commanded Nephi to go and get the plates.
From the wicked Laban inside the city gates.
Laman and Lemuel were both afraid to try.
Nephi was courageous. This was his reply:

I will go. I will do the things the Lord commands.
I know the Lord prepares a way. He wants me to obey.
I will go. I will do the things the Lord commands.
I know the Lord prepares a way. He wants me to obey. 
"Nephi's Courage" from the LDS Children's Songbook
With a story like that (our hypothetical Payne having always been unclear on the difference between the Lord and Lehi's father or between the Spirit and his own ideas), Payne's choice is clear, he must get the blood. With the battle cry "We're done here!" he overpowers and handcuffs Wubbels, the bill of rights and supreme court decisions notwithstanding.

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