He Started Out a Straight Up Punk

July 11, 2007

by melbo

There are two characters I’ve read about in books that have stolen my heart: Jean Valjean (from Les Miserables), and Alma the Younger. If polygamy exists in the afterlife and is somehow changed to allow me to select extra husbands, these will be my first draft picks. Yeah, okay, so one guy is fictional I know – just let a girl have her fantasies…

These men and their stories are very different, but I just can’t help but adore them for the same reasons. I sometimes wonder if Victor Hugo ever glanced through a Book of Mormon for some inspiration on a ruggedly handsome, repentant and compassionate leading man. Hmm, did I mention ruggedly handsome?

From the looks of my choices, I suppose I could give someone the impression that I’m a fan of redemption. Good thing, because it’s true. However, because this week’s topic is about favorite prophets and not favorite studly reformed ex-cons, I’ll put the spotlight on Alma.

The Book of Alma contains the most faded, stickered and highlighted pages in my 20-year-old Book of Mormon. (I know, it’s time for an upgrade, but who has time to re-sticker everything?) Everyone always jokes about reading the Book of Mormon and stopping at Nephi’s Isaiah chapters, putting it down, only to start back up months later with “I, Nephi having been born of goodly parents…” for the billionth time. My solution to that dilemma is to always go back to my boy. If I need inspiration, I’ll start with Alma’s words to his sons starting in Chapter 36 (some sage advice in there my friends). If I need to stay awake, I’ll start at the very beginning, Chapter 1, where as chief judge, Alma executes Nehor for priestcrafts. Nothing like a good old fashioned court room drama to kick start your scripture study – especially when it ignites a civil war! Woo-hoo!!

But like I said before, it’s the prodigal son niche that gets me every time. In his youth, Alma was a straight up punk – teaming up with the Sons of Mosiah to rebel against and unravel everything his father, Alma, the founder of the church in Zarahemla, worked so hard to build. Alma Jr. and his pals were eventually rebuked by an angel and Alma spent three days in a coma, forced to confront all of his many sins. (I figure there must have been a lot if it took three days to recap, eh?) “I was tormented with the pains of Hell,” he says in Alma 36:13. Afterwards he chose a life of repentance and preaching the gospel. He didn’t live long, though. About 20 years later he just up and vanished. Everyone at the time supposed the Lord received Alma in the spirit, unto himself. See? Isn’t he great? And while I know I’m not worthy of marrying a translated 2nd husband in my imaginary “afterlife draft”, I’ll settle for watching him from the bleachers. Or even an autograph. Gee, a photo together might be nice, too.



  1. Polyandry? No way I signed onto this. Anyway… I’m pretty sure Alma would have issues being the #2 “brother-husband”… and there ain’t no chance I’m giving up my spot as #1.

  2. Oh I love his story! I always imagined that Alma II was good until some bitter trouble maker told him all about what the priests of Noah did and that his dad had been one of them. I always have imagined Alma II’s rebellion as anger against perhaps “supposed” hypocrisies on on his dad’s part. Man, there is DRAMA in the BOM! If I had enough guts and talent I would plagiarize the entire thing just like Orson Scott Card! But then maybe it just takes guts…

  3. I’m sensing someone’s not a huge Orson Scott Card fan…

  4. I’ve never found a lot of nuance in any of the Book of Mormon heroes. Even Alma, who goes from Evil to Prophet, is always all one or all the other. Great essay, though.

    I have a long list of potential post-mortal plural husbands. I think my DH does NOT have a long list of potential post-mortal plural wives. At least, he’d better not.

  5. No…I LOVE Ender’s Game and his novella Lost Boys. I’m just mad that he thought of plagairizing the BoM before me (the Homecoming series). I was being a little snarky, although in person OSC is a little full of himself. N

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