I find myself writing in front of my office window, from where I can see the rain. Today is Saturday, March 21 in the year of our Lord 2020, it is 9.28. It is the 7th day of the state of alarm in Spain and the curve of those infected by Covid 19 does not stop growing. That’s why I’m going to write about the tower of Nimrod or tower of Babel.
Identifying in the present the divine designs or the end of the ages is a task that I have never set myself. For two reasons, because I do not know the times of the Lord and because the reading of his deeds, exceeds my capacity. However, the scriptures help to understand the present. Because they carry within them the ancient propeller of our nature.
O, ye nations of the earth!
I’m not a student of semiotics, nor would I say an amateur. However, one quality of the scriptures that is accessible to all is to awaken deep connections of meaning between the present and the past, to provide symbols that we can all perceive. I do not go into the scientific quality of their stories, that is the job of scholars. But it is undeniable that they transmit a human message, not only the historical fact (debate alien to theancum), but they transmit the human and divine reality with its controversies and paradoxes.
Chapter 10 of Genesis, although prior to chapter 11, is not in synchrony, it relates events after the tower of Nimrod. We read in Genesis
These are the sons of Shem, after their families, after their tongues, in their lands, after their nations. (Gen 10:31)
In this sequence of words, the architecture of the world is summarized. Families, languages, lands and as a modern concept of coexistence, the word nation. Nation is the last link of these three words of uncreated origin. No one invented the family, its language or the land. They emerge mysteriously from biology, from the clay of the world. Yet nation is a conscious, human construction. And yet it is embedded in nature, identifying itself with the three previous links, family, language and earth.
The Lord includes this word among his own, giving it entity, recognizing it as a representative of men.
Hearken, O ye nations of the earth, and hear the words of that God who made you. (D&C 43:23)
And his message “O, ye nations of the earth, how often would I have gathered you together as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, but ye would not!” (24)
This is the first mention of a globalization that we find in history. However, there was earlier a clear intervention by Jehovah to prevent it, perhaps the first known attempt.
Nimrod a hunter before the Lord
Nimrod was the son of Cush who was the son of Cam, the son of Noah. Nimrod is called a “mighty hunter before the Lord“ (Gen 10:9) We know that Nimrod also “he began to be a mighty one in the earth.” (8) before men.
Nimrod is credited with building a tower in his kingdom, Babel.
At that time “the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.” (Gen 11:1) We can recognize that same quality in our present. We use the same words, to describe the human being, his origin, his values, the just, the good. And we accept it as a gift of progress. I do so too, and sometimes with enthusiasm, but I recognize that my position is based on the waves and not on a course that I have decided.
“And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.” (2)
To leave the East is to leave the origin, Eden. To leave our childhood as humans and face a plain where we can spread out. That’s why “Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.” (4) It is to acquire a name of our own, not the diminutive of a child, but that which is achieved by our arm, that of the flesh. Just as Nimrod had his as a hunter before the Lord.
The new name
And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar…. Let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.(3)
Why not just a city, why a tower? Because Nimrod’s tower is his name, his identity, and it points to the sky. The tower grows in the city and consumes its resources and in return orders the thoughts of its inhabitants just as they order the bricks and asphalt. The tower is the one that gathers under its wings its citizens, fulfills their desires just as they occupy Sinar. Already the name obtained is not the father’s but the men of Babel, not the Lord’s.
The tower of Nimrod
Our global system for markets, information and entertainment is gradually becoming our tower. This global network is becoming more and more a neural network for nations. Its intention is to reach the sky, that is to say; we do not know. It is the entelechy of the future, the non-place. Our task is not to choose the direction but to lay bricks and asphalt. It is the same impression that the large and spacious building of Lehi’s dream gives, but in reverse. The Nimrod Tower lacks an end and the spacious building lacks a beginning.
“…Let us make a name for ourselves today, that is to say a noun that defines us as well as our first name, would be to accept the shelter under the shadow of Babel, his unique words for all, instead of seeking the wings of Jehovah.
Our Babel is a cultural cortex, the interface by which we perceive the world. Music, movies, politics, entertainment, technology, objects, global phrase blocks. The mythology of the future, that story that does not admit a step backwards and that places us in the stars. In my childhood it already existed and now I should be travelling around wearing a silver suit in a flying vehicle over a polished and shiny city. Without disease or war and full of happiness. It is a tower that goes to heaven.
This is all part of the Nimrod Tower on the modern Sinar Plain. That plain that we have found as we have emerged from the centuries past from our stone east and mixed with the brick and asphalt west of cyberspace.
Behold, the people is one
Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.. (6)
Why does this represent a problem for the Lord? Certainly if we are not one we are not his. Then why did he confuse the language and break the miracle of unity in Babel.
I think he did it, not because of their unity, but because nothing would stop them from doing it. That brings me back to the present. Our history is losing the human direction given by the ambitions of kings, the dynastic, territorial, ideological disputes. They are all giving in to that great tower being built in Sinar. Our tower has its direction and nobody knows what it is because it is in the future, the non-place that reaches the sky. The world is built by the men of the future, not by the men of Jehovah.
The nation is part of our name, even if we don’t use it. In ancient Rome, a person was identified by the tria nómina. Three names; praenomen or first name, nomen the clan or tribe to which he belonged and the cognomen the direct family within the clan. This clearly placed an individual in the present space and in the past.
Rome, which globalized the Mediterranean, that is, the universe, was based on a clear Roman identity. When she wanted to unify the world she had the Roman wings ready and the concept of Roman citizenship, which expanded to the whole empire little by little. It wasn’t a “let’s make a name for ourselves” they already had.
Off its coast, the Carthaginian Empire in North Africa based its expansion on trade, not on its identity as a nation. The clash between Rome and Carthage had an advantage in favour of Rome. The concept of state and nation far superior to Carthaginian mercantilism. The Senate of Rome was of patriots, the Carthaginian of merchants. For Rome the war was a matter of state for Carthage of profits and that destroyed Hannibal against Scipio.
The globalization of Babel, its unity was imposed, was not based on a tria nómina larvae in the soul but a tower of bricks built outside.
When the Lord designed Israel, He designed it with twelve nations or tribes, not one. He was already calculating the dispersion long before its constitution. The nations are his laboratory, they are like the nations of the heavens and the nations of the dead.
Let’s confuse their language there
The Lord is clearly acting against Babel’s intention. It is a unity around “what they have thought to do” not what they are, they want to [make themselves] a name, without taking the inner name, that of the nation of the Lord upon them. It is a unity similar to the present globalization, a unity for the movement of capital and goods, but not yet for the government of the citizenry and its problems, like the pandemic we are suffering from. They are in the opposite direction of a union around a deep identity such as the one that gives the gospel or the nation. That is why parasitic nationalist movements are emerging, offering an imposed identity.
The globalization that the Lord seeks starts from the interior of the soul towards the neighbor. The one sought in Babel is that of piling up efforts towards heaven.
From my window I can see the confusion among the nations. Covid 19 is a pandemic caused by a virus that has traveled on a planet with “one language and one words”. The borders that our ancestors left us, recognized as nations by the Lord, have been vital, necessary to regain control of the situation.
When a few months ago we considered that “being scattered over the face of the earth,” or in other words, “by [our] families, by [our] tongues, in [our] lands, in [our] nations,” was a regressive reality, overtaken by the global economy, by the information society, we now breathe a sigh of relief because at least we have borders.
This virus has shown us how fragile a tower that rises to the sky or a building that seems to rise in the air can be. When the Lord says, “How often would I have gathered you as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, but you would not” He is showing us that only under His wings, this is His power to save, can the nations be gathered.
His globalization is first giving us a name. King Benjamin, that wise man, knew the importance of a noun to support any construction.
And moreover, I shall give this people a name, that thereby they may be distinguished above all the people which the Lord God hath brought out of the land of Jerusalem; (Mosiah 1:11)
A Planet of Monoculture
But the globalization of our world does not begin by giving us a name but by dehydrating it, drying up its meaning by enhancing the individual and slowly eroding his nomen and cognomen. The disappearance of borders, mobility and uprooting eradicates us from [our] families, from [our] tongues, from [our] lands, from [our] nations.
We have seen in the management of this crisis; nations that have their markets and their currency united. However, citizens have received unequal help, not even coordinated between governments. They have left nations weakened in their capacities in the face of a global threat. One need only look at the disparity of infection and death among nations that are supposed to belong to one community. Germany and Spain, for example, with similar numbers of infected, have disparate numbers of deaths. The reason is prevention of early diagnosis, different strategies.
The problem of the large extensions of monocultures is pests. When there are different species of plants, that variety serves as a firebreak. Otherwise, pests devour everything, because each ear “has only one tongue (species) and one word (DNA)”. In our case the fear of the collapse of the economy, which is the raison d’être of the European Union, has turned us into a Babel, where we said “come on, let’s build ourselves a city and a tower whose top reaches the sky”. This fear has slowed down the reaction, especially in Italy and Spain, countries with weakened identities. These curves in the graph show a clear “confusion of languages” similar to that of Babel. This has turned the planet into a gigantic extension of a monoculture, the men of Babel, under its tower.
Under the Saviour’s Wings
I am not advocating anti-globalisation here, in fact the poverty rate has never dropped as much as it has now. In fact, globalization has favored Israel’s retreat
And I will make all my mountains a way, and my highways shall be exalted. Behold, these shall come from far: and, lo, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim. (Isaiah 49:11-12)
Rome made them out of cement, we made them out of the high information roads of the north and the west.
What I declare is that the Lord in his wisdom constituted the nations as cells of humanity. We cannot break their membranes without exposing ourselves to foreign pathogens.
The globalization of the Lord is the house of Israel, the inner nation of the saints. And the name of their King that we have taken upon us. Wherever we are, we are in his kingdom. There is more unity as saints in fasting because of a catastrophe than in European identity in the face of a crisis.
Who could have thought that a virus could break such power, a kingdom like ours, of such great height and great achievements. But it is now easy to distinguish that a tower to the sky is no place for mortal persons and that a spacious building, without foundation, will of necessity fall.
From teancum, accompanying in these difficult moments, with hope and courage.