Super powers

October 11, 2005    By: Geoff J @ 11:20 pm   Category: Life,Scriptures

So Clark and I were discussing superheroes and Mormonism briefly the other day. He already put up a post on it (but in true super villain form failed to mention me – he shall hereafter be known as Dr. FailsToGiveProps). Anyway, I always thought the Mormon super power (if we had one) would be closest to the powers of an obscure former X-Man named Longshot.

Longshot was actually neither a human nor a mutant, but somehow he made it into the X-Men for a while. His super powers included things that have nothing to do with Mormonism like agility, knife throwing accuracy, etc. But his best super power was this: Good Luck. To quote the Wiki linked to above:

He was genetically engineered and possibly augmented by magical means to have certain superhuman abilities. One of these is his ability to affect probability fields through psionic means in order to give himself “good luck” in his activities. This ability is tied into the positive aspects of his personality: should he attempt to use his powers for a selfish or evil act, or should he give up hope, his powers will fail to function.

This is the Mormon super power if I ever heard it – at least our scriptures say it should be. Now, like Longshot, we may know it is not actually just good luck. In his case he controls laws of probability in his favor. In our case we ask God to do the same thing for us. And like Longshot, we can only gets God to help us with righteous desires, not selfish or greedy desires.

The Book of Mormon if full of examples of this “super power”. How many times are we reminded “Inasmuch as you keep the commandments of God you shall prosper in the land”. (At least 13 apparently.) That sounds like a promise of some general good fortune to me. How many times did the Nephites beat incredible odds to keep the Lamanites from completely overrunning them? The Lamanites always attributed Nephite success to luck and cunning – the Nephites attributed it to God helping them. It is almost like the Nephites were using their super-power; “Hey Alma, can you ask God to look and see where the Lamanites will cross the River?” Alma comes back and says “It’ll be at point X”. The Nephites then waited in ambush for them and did some serious butt-kickin’. Hey, it is war and if God happens to be on your side then good for your side.

I used to joke with my seminary students and tell them: “You are Mormon; you get to cheat in life and ask God to help you. You get to ask for help and promptings all the time. And God is happy to oblige.” Of course it is not really cheating; it is simply taking advantage of a real relationship with God to prosper in the land.

Of course this all leads us to the Spidey’s famous saying “With great power comes great responsibility”. (Or the Mormon version in the D&C if you must). Whenever God blesses us the ante is raised and he expects us to bless others more. There is no using the God’s intervention solely for selfish purposes.

So what do you think? Have you used your Longshot-like powers to do good for yourself, your family, and others in the world? Are you properly being a super-hero?

Also, what would your unique and personal super hero name and power be? Or you could give others around here super hero names and describe their powers if you prefer… (For instance I think the super villian name I would give Kristen would be The HobbyGoblin with the power of taking up, wearing out, and leaving a hobby in a matter of weeks… ;-) )


  1. Way back in the day when I used to collect X-Men comics, I also ended up purchasing the first Longshot special edition series. I liked his character and also the odd dimension/universe he came from. I can still remember the fat disgusting creatures that had created him and that were pursuing him. As I recall it, the artwork in this series was pretty good.

    Comment by danithew — October 12, 2005 @ 3:40 am

  2. Do you really think that God actually alters the laws of probability for us, or is more likely that as a consequence of obeying his commandments that our minds are clearer and more receptive to vital revelation which will give us an edge in life that we wouldn’t have had before? I think this would still explain the Nephite victories, and most other prospering that occurs because of obedience.

    Comment by Craig Atkinson — October 12, 2005 @ 4:57 am

  3. Next you’ll be telling us that Dr. Xavier was based on Howard W. Hunter.

    (Best comic book movie, btw: Unbreakable.)

    Comment by Frank the Fish n' Chip Man — October 12, 2005 @ 5:02 am

  4. Great, I wake up on my birthday to find that I’ve attained Super Villian status. Happy birthday to me!

    I think your super hero name will be…Professor Lecturicus. You have the super ability to take up any subject and lecture upon it extensively, causing all super villains in the near vacinity to run for cover.

    Comment by Kristen J — October 12, 2005 @ 8:10 am

  5. Nice Kristen! Just like Professor Xavier. So I guess many of the bloggers around here are members of the Loquacious L-Men then?

    Comment by Geoff J — October 12, 2005 @ 8:13 am

  6. I wouldn’t know since my main purpose on this planet is to find and destroy hobbies! Muhahahaha!

    Comment by Kristen J — October 12, 2005 @ 8:18 am

  7. HobbyGoblin: You clearly need a good lecture. This looks like a job for the Loquacious L-Men and their leader Professor Lecturicus!

    Comment by Geoff J — October 12, 2005 @ 8:22 am

  8. Craig – No I don’t think God actually bends probabilities… It is all a matter of perspective. His is better than ours so he can give advice on things that are beyond human capabilities (or in other words super-human right?) He also seems to have power and influence over other events that can benefit us and appear to be “good luck” to others when we call on his help.

    Danithew – I loved this Longshot character. What I didn’t mention is that my teenage self liked his other power:

    Longshot has demonstrated some degree of supernatural attractiveness which tends to compell women to fall in love with him upon first sight (most notably the X-Men’s Rogue and Dazzler).

    What teeager wouldn’t envy that power? And it clearly must have been a super power because if I remember correctly Longshot originally had a bit of a late 80s mullet.

    Ro.. err.. Frank – Yes, I loved Unbreakable too (though the bad guy was a little too graphic I thought). Most people I know didn’t like it though.

    Comment by Geoff J — October 12, 2005 @ 8:31 am

  9. BTW — SnarkBoy came up with some pretty good ‘Nacle hero names over at his blog.

    Comment by Geoff J — October 12, 2005 @ 8:52 am

  10. AS to the doctrine, there is the whole Job situation. But I agree that as a society is righteous, in general, they will prosper.

    As for my alter-ego: Correctus

    Comment by J. Stapley — October 12, 2005 @ 10:01 am

  11. What do you mean about the bad guy being too graphic?

    I still think that one of the best movies by that director. (I’m definitely not going to risk trying to spell his name off the top of my head) A very underrated movie that also touches upon the issues of family and so forth. In a way he’s a superhero who chooses the family life. A kind of interesting Mormon choice.

    Comment by Clark — October 12, 2005 @ 2:24 pm

  12. What do you mean about the bad guy being too graphic?

    I’m not talking about the surprise super villain, but rather the home-invasion/torturing/psycho bad guy. I thought that whole episode was too graphic for the movie — it felt out of place and over the top to me. I think the director should have toned down that portion of the movie.

    Comment by Geoff J — October 12, 2005 @ 6:45 pm

  13. But nothing was done on screen. It’s all left to your imagination.

    Comment by Clark — October 12, 2005 @ 6:54 pm

  14. Re: #14 — You are a serious spaz.

    Clark – I still thought it was out of place in the movie. The implication was too strong and failed to blend well with the rest of the film in my opinion.

    Comment by Geoff J — October 12, 2005 @ 7:53 pm

  15. Interesting tidbit: The first superpower exhibited in the Bible is Joseph’s ability to interpret dreams (Jacob’s trick with the sticks doesn’t really count, since it’s not obvious what is going on.) In a piece of dramatic irony fitting for any comic book, Joseph can only interpret the dreams of others, and not his own.

    Comment by DKL — October 12, 2005 @ 8:19 pm

  16. (#16)
    Mmmmmm. Word Salad — my favorite.

    Comment by hungry — October 12, 2005 @ 10:22 pm

  17. Chris,

    You take a hard line against wealth of any kind. I think you are overshooting the mark. God doesn’t hate rich people for being rich. He does have strong opinions about how we all use our resources however (and whether we keep our covenants we make with him or not).

    Comment by Geoff J — October 12, 2005 @ 11:44 pm

  18. By the way Chris, I put up two posts on this subject of wealth and righteousness earlier this year. See here and here.

    Comment by Geoff J — October 12, 2005 @ 11:48 pm

  19. DKL, there were plenty of supernatural things going on prior to Joseph. What about people talking to God and not dying? And look at Abraham, he wrestled God and won…suffering only a dislocated leg in the process. And what about the “giants” roaming the earth? The standard read on Gen. 6:4 is simply wild and crazy, surely it qualifies as supernatural.

    Comment by Kurt — October 13, 2005 @ 3:31 am

  20. Kurt,

    And what about the forbidden fruit? Kryptonite if I ever saw it.

    Comment by Frank the Fish n' Chip Man — October 13, 2005 @ 6:56 am

  21. Kurt, there’s no scriptural account of anybody dying because they talk to God. It was Jacob who wrestled with God, and it’s not clear that he wrestled literally or figuratively, but it’s pretty clear that if he won it was because God was holding back. The Giants roaming the earth never have any identifiable supernatural attributes; they’re simply the heroes of old.

    There are plenty of weird goings-on in the Bible, but Joseph is the first person with an identified superpower.

    Comment by DKL — October 13, 2005 @ 7:32 am

  22. What about Samson??

    Comment by Steve Evans — October 13, 2005 @ 7:57 am

  23. Frank,

    DKL wont admit to that one because its the fruit thats supernatural and not the person.


    youre splitting hairs on the talking to God and not dying thing, but Ill concede the point without bringing up Mahonri Moriancumr.

    How is it clear God was holding back while wrestling Jacob? The account suggests otherwise as “he prevailed not against [Jacob]” and begged him to let him go and Jacob refused. And what about his vision of the ladder to heaven? Visions arent supernatural?

    As for the Nephilim, come on, ignoring the plain common sense reading, if you look at the wacky readings on them, thats got to qualify.

    And what about Shiz, the guy gets his head wacked off and still comes back for more. Thats impressive, at the very least.

    Comment by Kurt — October 13, 2005 @ 8:10 am

  24. No, it’s Adam. How else can you live 900+ years?


    Samson’s in Judges, you plonker. How can he be the “first”?

    Comment by Frank the Fish n' Chip Man — October 13, 2005 @ 8:37 am

  25. Kurt, First, Mahonri Moriancumr isn’t in the Bible, and I’m talking about the “first superpower exhibited in the Bible.” Second, if nobody died seeing God, then no hairs are being split–it’s not a superpower. Third, as far as the wrestling incident, apparently you conceive of a deity whose omnipotence allows him to create worlds and defeat armies, but is foiled by talented wrestlers. Forth, regarding the Nephilim, I challange you to identify a single super-power that they exhibit in the Old Testament.

    Frank, according to the Old Tesament, the natural order of things before the flood was for men to live nearly 1000 years. It’s not until Genisis 6 that God decrees that the life of men shall be limitted to 120 years.

    This discussion seems to serve as a perfect example of the problem with reading the KJV–it doesn’t give people a clear understanding of the Old Testament.

    Comment by DKL — October 13, 2005 @ 8:48 am

  26. Samson’s in Judges, you plonker.

    Ha! (Plonker… niiiice.)

    Kurt – Come on, the the idea that Jacob beat God in a real wrestling match and that God didn’t want to lose is absurd don’t you think? But I do think you have a point about his vision — seeing visions must be as much of a super power as interprting dreams, right DKL. (Unless you qualify it because the dream interpretations were verifiable and the visions were not…)

    Comment by Geoff J — October 13, 2005 @ 9:04 am

  27. Oi vei, I retract….

    …Steve is not a plonker.

    Comment by Frank the Fish n' Chip Man — October 13, 2005 @ 9:50 am

  28. DKL,

    More hair splitting! Limiting it to a specific text and not a pre-Israelite timeframe. Of course its hair splitting, people very nearly almost got really very extremely close to being killed in a very literal fashion. Youre championing a clear case of an argument from silence, assuming that because something didnt happen it cannot happen. You know thats bad logic.

    And, of course, Jacob didnt wrestle God Himself, nobody really believes that. He wrestled an angel of some sort. Even so, you are attempting a reductio ad absurdum without addressing the main point. If Jacob could outwrestle God, then clearly his wrestling skills are supernatural. QED. And, as Geoff points out, you failed to address Jacob’s preternatural ability to see heavenly things. Joseph is clearly Jacob’s heir when it comes to visions, dreams and wrestling (having handily escaped the clutches of Potiphar’s Wife).

    Nephilim, well, they…uh…come on, you cannot limit discussion to what the OT actually says. What about all the great and goofy traditions based upon thousands of years of entirely level-headed speculation? Be fair.

    Comment by Kurt — October 13, 2005 @ 10:01 am

  29. Kurt, I can limit my discussion to what the OT says, and I did. What I said was, “The first superpower exhibited in the Bible is Joseph’s ability to interpret dreams.” By this, I intended the quite reasonable meaning that no other super power was explicitly identified as the unusual ability of one person until we see Joseph interpreting dreams. The only possible exception to this is Jacob’s trick with the sticks and the sheep, but I explicitly mention this and explain why I discount it.

    Your argument that there may have been super powers before the explicit introduction of Joseph’s interpretation of dreams is simply beside the point. I’m don’t care at all what different books say or what someone might deduce about things left unsaid. The first superpower exhibited in the Bible is Joseph’s ability to interpret dreams .

    Comment by DKL — October 13, 2005 @ 10:18 am

  30. DKL, clearly, I am overpowered by your nearly superhuman skills at logic…and denial. Evidence to the contrary notwithstanding, I bow to your mastery of the ancient Ostrich technique (bai qua duo-head in sand move) and concede the fight. My Tiger Style is weak in comparison.

    Comment by Kurt — October 13, 2005 @ 10:59 am

  31. I think you are selling Nibley short, chris. His writings are far more nuanced than the version you are giving thus far. (The other two posts I linked to were inspired by Nibley’s writings as well.)

    Comment by Geoff J — October 13, 2005 @ 4:11 pm

  32. Chris,

    Let me assure you that you are preaching to the choir by quoting Nibley to me. I am very well acquainted with his writings (including the essays in Approaching Zion which you seem to be interested in talking about) and have supported and promoted his views here at the Thang many times.

    I’m honestly not sure what specifically you are arguing for with regard to this post. Can you spell that outfor me so I can know how to respond?

    Comment by Geoff J — October 13, 2005 @ 8:17 pm

  33. Whatever. Cain changed colors. That’s obviously a superpower!

    Comment by a random John — October 13, 2005 @ 8:40 pm

  34. chris – you think that what i am saying is too harsh. but i get this stuff from nibley.

    No, I am saying I have no idea what any of your comments have to do with this post. Can you answer that simple question?

    arJ – Nice. Like that blue mutant. Of course it’s not really a super power if you can’t control it…

    Comment by Geoff J — October 13, 2005 @ 8:55 pm

  35. Chris,

    I think that your position is one of extreme judgement here. You have said several times…

    my wife is brazilian as i said, and the nicest people she has ever met were the poorest people in brazil.i tried to help you see what i was talking about

    It sounds like you are saying that the only way you can be a true follower of Christ on this planet is if you are dirt poor. That is ridiculous, there have been many righteous people who have given huge amounts of money and other helpful things to the downtrodden. Just because you don’t here about it doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. What about the perpetual education fund?

    As for all of these gentlemen you are having such a grand time slamming in your comments, they are not perfect men. A little name dropping or excess spending is a far less heinous sin than a whole lot of others. Why don’t you show a little compassion for your brothers who are having difficulties in this area.

    As far as your sweeping judgements about the fabulously wealthy general authorities you need to do a little more research. President Hinckley for instance isn’t a rich man. I have a cousin who is a g.a. who has lived a very middle of the road lifestyle because of his service to the church.

    PS. Geoff’s point to you is to stay on the topic of the post and to stop threadjacking here…sheesh!

    Comment by Kristen J — October 13, 2005 @ 10:06 pm

  36. Ok, I’ve got you all beat. Eve was a parsel tongue!

    Comment by Kristen J — October 13, 2005 @ 10:32 pm

  37. I think Kristen is right, chris. Your position seems to be a bitter and judgmental and uncharitable one. Are we reading you wrong?

    Further, what do you think the promise of prosperity in th land means? Do you think it never means any financial propserity for any Saint or something? I realize that wealth and righteousness are not necessarily connected, but are you saying they never are connected? Again, it might be better for us to pick up this conversation at my two posts dealing with righteousness and wealth here and here. Talking about this subject at this post seems like a bit of a threadjack.

    Comment by Geoff J — October 13, 2005 @ 10:35 pm

  38. Was the snake the first supervillain?

    Comment by Clark — October 13, 2005 @ 10:57 pm

  39. Chris, don’t confuse Nibley with the scriptures. Some of Nibley’s views were idiosyncratic to say the least. And he didn’t seem to mind money going to books. So one could easily accuse him of having certain goods that didn’t count as riches.

    That’s not to decry riches. But I think the situation is a bit more complicated than the caricatures Nibley sometimes portrayed. I think, though, that some times a little hyperbole drive home the point better.

    Comment by Clark — October 13, 2005 @ 10:59 pm

  40. Ok, I’ve got you all beat. Eve was a parsel tongue!


    Comment by Crystal — October 14, 2005 @ 7:47 am

  41. Yep, I think the serpent was definitely the first super villain for sure.

    Comment by Kristen J — October 14, 2005 @ 8:01 am

  42. arj, Cain didn’t up and mark himself. God marked him. And we’re not clear on whether that was color or some other marking. Maybe he was the first bald man.

    Comment by DKL — October 16, 2005 @ 11:45 am

  43. Guys, why bring up Nibley in a thread in which I’m participating? (Whatever happens, you all deserve it…)

    Comment by DKL — October 16, 2005 @ 11:47 am

  44. Ha! I was thinking the same thing DKL. It was not me, it was chris… he is probably not aware of our good times regarding the subject in the past.

    Marked with baldeness… nice. Or worse, maybe it was a marking with Gallagher hair?

    Comment by Geoff J — October 16, 2005 @ 12:45 pm

  45. DKL has avoided the parsel tongue issue entirely. That must be a super power of its own!

    Comment by a random John — October 16, 2005 @ 2:59 pm

  46. Eve wasnt parseltongue, they all spoke the Adamic Tongue prior to the Tower of Babel. However, the Serpent was obviously polymorphic.

    Comment by Kurt — October 17, 2005 @ 7:41 am

  47. so i guess what your saying geoff is that jesus shouldnt have been so uncharitable and judgemental of the pharisees. or that moroni should’nt have been that way when he says about the rich(or the world)in our day why do ye adorn yourselves with things that have no life and suffer the poor to go without. i’d say they were pretty uncharitable and judgemental too would’nt you? do you think when abinadi was talking to king noah that he wasnt talking to him as being like many rich people today? when i was young i thought as many of the people in the church think today. the world is sex, drugs, alchohol, cigarettes and partys.that is not what the world is. the world is satans world of money. how many times do you see the prophets in the bom talk about the vain things of the world. do you think that they were talking about things that don’t have to do with money? also when you talked about this relationship between prosperity and wealth. you really think that properity is wealth huh? Prosperity is having enough. wealth is having too much and enough to possess the vain things of the world.(big houses,hummers,fine clothes that you buy your kids that separate them from less affluent kids) you think that a rich person’s mansion or life is any different from that of king noah’s back in bom days. also when you made this inference to the lord saying that if ye shall keep my commandments ye shall prosper in the land what he meant was you wont have the lamanites coming into your lands destroying you because of your high heads caused from your riches. again “prospering” is not having the lamanites threatening to destroy you at any moment. prospering is not being smitten by famine and pestilences. prospering has nothing to do with excess of things. i am a prosperous person. i have just enough to take care of my wife and son. i make 34,000 a year. we eat, we sleep ,we play , we laugh and what makes us even more prosperous is that we don’t have to waste our precious time together thinking about how to get more money like rich or unprosperous people do. we don’t have to sell our souls for money like my former friend who makes about 350,000 a year. he’s not even a millionaire by todays standards but he spends every waking moment trying to get more money to the chagrin of his former wife and kids. that’s what it takes to be the kind of prosperous that your talking about. you have to sell your soul to get it. you think that you can just live the commandments and be rich? your sorely mistaken buddy. you have to sell your soul to you know who to get it.and when you have this kind of “abundance” in your eyes the stain of it follows you everywhere. i knew when i posted all this stuff i would get this kind of pharisee reaction. just goes to prove my theory once again of the hypocrites in the church over here

    Comment by chris — October 18, 2005 @ 11:49 am

  48. chris,

    I’m still not sure why you are ranting about this. No one here disagrees in principle. I only have a problem with the fact that you seem to think I need to be called to repentance over this subject when you know nothing about me or my situation. You are rambling like a lunatic and yet what do you suggest we actually do? You act as if everyone reading this is guilty of something — what is your sage-like suggestion for us to actually do in our lives right now? And how do you know we are not already doing it?

    I have read all of that Nibley material you are drawing from. I agree with it. Why are you attacking me? What is it you think I’m doing incorrectly?

    You can compare yourself to Christ or Moroni or Abinidi all you want, but this statement of yours: “i knew when i posted all this stuff i would get this kind of pharisee reaction.” tells me that you actually came here looking for contention and you know who inspires that kind of attitude. (Hint: It ain’t Jesus)

    Comment by Geoff J — October 18, 2005 @ 12:19 pm

  49. Ha! Well I actually said you were “ranting” in general and “rambling like a lunatic”.

    Boy — I guess you proved me wrong. No rambling like a lunatic from you! Thanks for another coherent comment…

    Now back to the point of this post. I have thought up a few super-names for you:

    -RANTOR (Sound angry like you do plus the all caps is the inverse of your no caps style)
    -Brazil Boy (With excellent skill at marketing all things Brazillian)
    -Captain ZealSansKnowledge (I think it fits and is a nod to brother Nibley)
    -Jumpin Threadjack Flash (Comments completely off topic at will!)
    -Banned Boy (‘Cause I suspect I’ll probably need to ban you after you see this comment and flip out)

    Lighten up bro. Life is too short to spend it angry. ;-)

    Comment by Geoff J — October 25, 2005 @ 10:05 pm

  50. chris – I tried to email you but it bounced. Click on the following links and read these posts and comments if you are interested in talking about Mormonism and money. Click here. Or click here. Or click here.

    Comment by Geoff J — October 26, 2005 @ 11:49 pm