Last week I began rereading the Book of Mormon, taking up President Hinckley’s challenge to the Church (I have it on good authority, incidentally, that posting about this challenge is not considered poaching, so there). Reading the Book of Mormon feels like coming home to me – it is so familiar, so welcoming a book, that it is comfort food for the soul.
Rusty once posted along these lines at Nine Moons, and I agree entirely with him. I feel refreshed from reading the book, like a trip back to where I grew up, and yet just like that kind of a trip, nothing’s quite the same as it used to me. Of course I’m the one that’s changed, not the book itself, but I read with new filters and new eyes each time. I can already begin to believe President Hinckley’s words:
Without reservation I promise you that if each of you will observe this simple program, regardless of how many times you previously may have read the Book of Mormon, there will come into your lives and into your homes an added measure of the Spirit of the Lord, a strengthened resolution to walk in obedience to His commandments, and a stronger testimony of the living reality of the Son of God.
Now, for my own bizarre reflection thus far: Nephi could be a real jerk sometimes. After he recounts his dream and his interpretation to his brothers, for example, and exhorts them to be righteous, they reply: "Thou hast declared unto us hard things, more than we are able to bear." For the first time, I saw this as meaning, "what you’ve said is difficult to understand, and the commandments you’ve set out are really tough." In other words, we’re having a tough time with this.
Nephi’s reply is of course a famous snark: "I said unto them that I knew that I had spoken hard things against the wicked, according to the truth…wherefore the guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center." Now, that’s not the most compassionate way to reply, but such directness was Nephi’s claim to fame. I can’t help but wonder what might have happened if Nephi had taken them by the hand and shown them some tenderness. I don’t want to pretend that Laman and Lemuel were more sinned against than sinning — they are the bad guys. But as I try to incorporate the Book of Mormon into my life, maybe I can learn from both sides of the story.