A Mormon Canoe


Something I’m grateful for from Joseph Smith’s Book of Mormon is the surprising story of ancient Israelites crossing a great ocean in watertight barges (shaped like dirigibles?) that allow, at least at times, a baptism-like immersion under the waves:

And it came to pass that they were many times buried in the depths of the sea, because of the mountain waves which broke upon them… and… when they were buried in the deep there was no water that could hurt them, their vessels being tight like unto a dish… therefore when they were encompassed about by many waters they did cry unto the Lord, and he did bring them forth again upon the top of the waters. (Ether 6)

Striking fantasy, these barges that are crafted and joined so tightly, then ballasted in such a way as to let them move vertically; somehow they can control their depth, like a school of chambered nautili, while the ancients within, snug in their bone-dry quarters (lit up by magic stones) pray (even though no water can hurt them) for the Lord’s hand to lift them back to the surface.

A version of this built today, with better technology, could be convertible. What I picture is a streamlined wooden canoe, one that is paddled in the familiar way, but that, when desired, turns into a submarine. A glass dome, like the ones once projected for futuristic cars, would encapsulate the rower, and he would drift down through wonders that are invisible on the surface.

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