Joy. It's our purpose
On a scale of 1 to 10, how happy are you today? How about the past week? The past year? Or overall? Would you (and those around you) consider you to be a generally happy person overall? Maybe you’re just not a “happy” kind of person. Maybe you’re not a total grump, but maybe on the overall personality spectrum, you’re a bit closer to the Mr. Grinch end than the Relief Society President end. Maybe you’re holding out hope that you would be eventually happy. You know, once your sons have returned from their missions. And your quorum takes their ministering assignments seriously. And your husband stops leaving the toilet seat up. Or maybe you’re just enduring life right now and looking forward to that day of release when you will finally be able to rest in eternal felicity in heaven because sure then you will be happy, right?
The remembrance cycle
I like listening to my dad tell stories from his time in the army. One thing he observed is that the drill sergeants he had were very much like the drill sergeants you see in the movies: insulting, swearing, and strict almost to the point of abusive. And he saw why. Although my dad was a married, returned missionary with 2 kids when he enlisted in the army, the rest of his group were 18 and 19-year old boys. And they acted the part. The primary goal in basic training is to crush you and try and get as much of the silliness and horseplay out of you as possible.
I’m in the middle of the saddest part of the Book of Mormon. Throughout the latter half of 3 Nephi, Christ ushers in a period of peace and national righteousness that gives us modern readers a little preview of the Millenium. Then, 3 Nephi ends, and by the end of the very next chapter, the Nephites are largely corrupt and ripe for their final destruction. No gradual decline this time– they come out in open rebellion against God, the day of grace is past, and you know this is the end of the end. Each time I read the story of their self-destruction in my studies, it feels more sad and sickening than the last. This time through, I noticed some interesting details from the war accounts from Mormon 2 that I had overlooked before.
It's never just a little
A few particular points of the law
In 67 or 66 BC, the Nephites had things pretty good. As far as the miilitary goes, they’d been winning wars left an right. And they didn’t even lose a single soldier in the most recent battle. Plus, things were great at home, too. They’d built a lot of cities and there were peace and prosperity in the land:
And in these prosperous circumstances were the people of Nephi in the commencement of the twenty and first year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi.
And they did prosper exceedingly, and they became exceedingly rich; yea, and they did multiply and wax strong in the land.
Nothing could go wrong! I mean, sure, there was a land dispute Moroni had to resolve, but aside from that minor skirmish, everything seemed to be going really well leading up to Alma 51
When brothers become enemies
On Fast Sundays, instead of a full-length article, I write what I call a “fast thoughts” post. A short, unplanned look into a quick lesson I learned from the Book of Mormon. Enjoy.
Often called the “Psalm of Nephi” because it follows the rich Hebraic poetic structure of the Psalms of David and Solomon, 2 Nephi 4 is one of the most emotive and power chapters is one of the most emotive and powerful chapters in all of Scripture in my opinion.
Personal Conversion, Personal Savior
Every man for himself!
In this Church, we take seriously God’s command to watch out for each other “both temporally and spiritually.” We contribute fast offerings. We clean yards. We
home and visit teach, ahem, minister to each other. We know that it is our duty to be our brother’s keeper and that we must work together as wards, stakes, quorums, classes, and families to assist in the work of salvation. “Thee lift me and I’ll lift thee, and we’ll ascend together.”
Given that doctrine and strong tradition of community support and brotherly concern, I was surprised the other day when I opened the Book of Mormon and found the phrase “every man for himself.” And it was used to describe, of all people, the righteous Nephites at the time of Christ’s first visit.