Thursday, July 30, 2015

3 Nephi 7 - Overthrow of the Nephite Government

Pop quiz: who destroyed the Nephite government three years before the sign of Jesus' death?

It's not the Gadiantons. At this time in the Nephite history, there weren't any as they'd all been executed or converted six years earlier. The correct answer is lawyers, lower judges and their friends destroyed the government.

Today's equivalents are politicians, senior government officials, the Judiciary (have to put the lawyers somewhere), and their cronies, family and friends. It should be no surprise then, to a student of the Book of Mormon, who is changing the government in radical ways that take away our rights, and liberties. I'll bet you're surprised. Not.

It's one of those not so subtle proofs showing the content of the Book of Mormon is far beyond something an 1829 farm boy, school teacher or minister could ever dream up. Its insights into our day are so prescient, the contents of this chapter ought to be alarming.

Someone once said history repeats itself and if you don't learn from the past, you'll get the full brunt of its lessons the hard way. Actually, history rhymes. But the themes and lessons are no less dangerous or painful to endure when they come. It's fortunate we have the warning of 3 Nephi 7 because it gives us time to prepare.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

3 Nephi 6 - Our Day

In the keynote address of the April 1987 General Conference, President Benson said, "The record of the Nephite history just prior to the Savior's visit reveals many parallels to our own day." This chapter is the meat of that statement. As such it contains material that is cause for great concern with just a dash of hope.

The hope comes from showing what we must to do to remain faithful in such a wicked environment. In verse 13, he observes only charity: not returning railing for railing, being kind in the face of persecution is the only way the righteous remained so.

The rest of the chapter tells of wickedness being so prevalent and Satan's power over the people so great, the church is broken up. Eventually, it exists only among a few of the Lamanites. Later, when God wants to warn the people, He must choose righteous men since the church no longer has an effective voice.

We live in such days: we have many businesses, lawyers and a level of material wealth the world has not seen. Wickedness abounds and as Isaiah wrote, today that which God says is good is now considered evil. Debauchery and lasciviousness is considered acceptable entertainment. (50 Shades of Gray, anyone?)

Our government is disconnected from reality... many of us are. In my previous post, I commented on Giddianhi's letter. It's an outrageous declaration of beliefs not grounded in reality or sound thinking. But how different is it from what comes out of Washington DC?

The only safe path forward, is courageous, yet humble and committed adherence to Jesus Christ and His teachings.

Monday, July 27, 2015

3 Nephi 4-5 The Great Siege

These chapters finish one of the better known and interesting "battle" stories of the Book of Mormon. The one where the Nephites and Lamanites retreat to the center of their land, hunker down behind their fortress walls and outlast the Gadiantons. Since the story is well known, I wont spend a lot of time on retelling it, but I am going to comment on some of its "interesting" aspects.

First off is the letter from Giddianhi to Lachoneous. In the Book of Mormon, Mormon includes two letters from two different bad guys. The first is from Amoron where he agrees to swap prisoners with Captain Moroni. The other is this letter where Giddianhi demands the unconditional surrender of Nephites. What's common between the two is how they show the best way to get people to follow you is convince them they're victims. Once you do that, then you promise to redress their wrongs if they do what you say.

I've wondered why Mormon included these letters and stories. The best answer I can think of is this stratagem will be used on us. For us to recognize it and see it for the evil it is, he included these letters. Once you recognize the pattern, it's easy to spot it in just about any political movement. It goes like this: for your money, I will fix <fill in the blank for the fear du jour> for you. Gullible sheep that we are, enough fall for this that con men of all flavors continue doing it.

The other tidbit I find interesting is Mormon's comment about who he is: a "pure" descendant of Lehi. Imagine having a thousand year long bloodline where both mother and father come from the same person. I can only guess, but the number who could make that claim by Mormon's day was probably pretty limited and put him, so far as lineage is concerned in a very elite group. Remember the aristocracy of their culture? By birth, Mormon was an elite of the elite.

To his credit, it didn't go to his head, but it was probably his geneology as much as anything that got him the position of commander of all Nephite armies. It's something to think about. He sets a great example, one that is stressed over and over again: listen to and follow the spirit. That I would do as well.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Charity Never Faileth - Meaning of...

This is slightly off topic, but the idea came with such force, I wanted to share it with you all. While preparing for my lesson in High Priests, I came across the expression "charity never faileth." Normally, I would have blown right past that and not given it any more thought, but the question came to me... "what does it mean?"

For me, I'd always thought it meant that charity is an eternal virtue, as in, it's what motivates all who are citizens of the Celestial Kingdom. Because that's how they live and act, then charity is a concept, a behavior or attitude that is eternal.. it never faileth. And then the question came to mind... but what does the word "fail" mean?

So, to the dictionary I went, wondering if there was some obscure meaning which may provide a new nuance to the expression. Instead I was drawn to the very first definition: to be unsuccessful in achieving a goal. And then the ah-hah moment. Charity will always work! If you want to touch or raise or improve someone else, use charity: it always works!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

3 Nephi 2-3 Gidgidoni

In these two chapters we have the run up to what I call, "The Great Siege." In it the Nephites and righteous Lamanites gather into the center of their lands to outlast the Gadiantions. I'll talk about that in my next post, for now there are a few interesting tidbits I want to mention.

One that jumped out at me is Mormon's commentary on the Nephite Chief Captain, Gidgidoni. Did you know it's only recently that this name has been found by archeologists in the Old World? It's recently been seen inscribed on Neo-Assyrian cuneiform tablets. These were the people who carried the Northern Kingdom of Israel into captivity. The empire ceased to exist about 607 BCE. Do you think maybe refugees from its collapse may have ended up in the Southern Kingdom by or about the time Mulek and company left? And do you think, maybe, just maybe the name came to the New World that way?

It makes me wonder how Joseph Smith knew nearly two hundred years ago it was an authentic, time period appropriate name? Then again, the critics will tell you it was probably Sidney Rigdon who knew it, since he was after all a "much smarter person." Whatever... My point is: NO ONE in Upstate New York in 1829 knew of it. So was it just a lucky guess? I think not.

The other interesting thing about him is his resume, he was a prophet before he was made commander of the Nephite armies. What strikes me about this is it shows Alma the Elder and his progeny weren't the Nephites' only religious voices. While they were part of the Nephite aristocracy, they weren't all of it. I think it's interesting Mormon had to point this out to the reader. It indicates that in his day, that was not the case. It's another evidence that in the Nephite and Lamanite culture, there was an aristocracy wherein religious, political and military power were often combined in one person and that it was "normal" for them.

Not once, does Mormon ever comment on how odd that was according to our way of thinking. In fact, in an essay Orson Scott Card wrote about the challenges of writing a fictional "history" that claims to be authentic, Card observes most authors will point out the differences from what is normal to explain it to the reader to prove to the reader, "these people are different." Mormon did it with the comment about prophets being appointed military commanders when the people were righteous. To him, that was a significant enough difference from the norm that he needed to explain it. The BIG difference for us is the aristocratic nature of their society, yet on that sense, Mormon is silent. If Joseph had made it up, he would have commented on that, but you NEVER see anything about that in the book.

It's another subtle evidence the Book of Mormon is what it claims to be, the abridged history of an ancient culture that existed here in the Americas.

NOTE: Sorry about the earlier mix up on the book's name. This should have been, and now is about 3 Nephi, not Helaman.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Helaman 16 - 3 Nephi 1 - The Futility of Signs

If you think signs will make lasting converts, think again. If you doubt my words, these two chapters are all the proof I need. Many stories in the Book of Mormon show they never cause nor precede conversion, rather, they either condemn or follow faith. The sign of the birth of Jesus Christ is not only the archetype of all signs but the most impressive too.

Leading up to it, the grossly wicked Nephites had whipped up the wicked ones to anger against the righteous for their belief in the Savior's coming. This anger was so hot, they'd determined to massacre the righteous on a given day if it didn't appear. Nephi, the son of Nephi was so distraught he spent the day before praying mightily for his people. My guess is, he'd actually spent many days leading up to that pleading for the welfare of the righteous.

That he would do so, is evidence he was confident the government would not intervene. In fact, the government probably sanctioned what was about to happen. So, if you think being righteous is difficult today, imagine what it was like then. For them, their faith in everything they'd been taught, not to mention their lives was on the line. But I digress.

That day Nephi gets an answer, "tonight the sign will be given." And sure enough, it comes astonishing everyone. Many of the wicked fall to the ground in wonder. And for what you think would be an unforgettable night, there is no darkness.

Everyone is converted to the Gospel. But the next day it seems,  the lies and rumors began. "It's all some trick to deceive us," they are told. And while it seems preposterous to us, in less than three years, many among both the Nephites and the Lamanites are dissenting and joining the Gadiantons. The chapter ends with even the Lamanites dwindling in righteousness because of the wickedness of their children.

In my opinion, this sign wasn't given to convert the wicked, but to save the righteous. And so it is today: your personal experiences with the spirit wont convert others, but they can save your testimony in the face of trials and persecution. And that's why we need to work to have them often. Enjoy the day.

In the spirit of the post, let me make a plug for my app. "LDS Advocate" links to many online resources which can help strengthen your testimony. I wrote it for the faithful who have questions about aspects of the Gospel. Please check it out in iTunes. There's a link to it in the sidebar of this blog. Thanks.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Helaman 13-15 Samuel and the Light in the Sky

The account of Samuel the Lamanite, is unique among the stories in the Book of Mormon. It's the only one Jesus himself told the Nephites to include in the Large Plates of Nephi. Because of this importance, Mormon included it in the record he compiled.

The story of Samuel the Lamanite and his preaching to the Nephites, is well known, so I wont spend time on it here. Instead, I want to focus on the sign he predicted of the Savior's birth. He said it would be light as day the night before the day the Savior was born. The effect of that being a day, a night and another day that would appear as one day. That's pretty impressive!

I've wondered how that could happen. How did God make the sky light up without the sun around so it would shine like day? I still don't know, but there is a clue. In Chapter six, verse five, Samuel says there will be a new star, such as they've never seen before appear in the sky.

The geek in me says the two events are connected. This is how... When a star much larger than the sun runs out of fuel, it explodes becoming a "super nova." It puts out as much light energy in that dying gasp as it did over its entire life time. Some of that energy is in the form of a spherical wave of charged particles rushing away from the star.

Our sun frequently does this too, but on a much less violent scale. When the sun's particles pass the Earth, some get trapped by the magnetosphere and sent down to the poles. There they hit the upper atmosphere creating the auroras. In this instance though these particles hit the atmosphere in such a way and place, it lit up like a giant neon light. Which made the night as bright as day, even though no star could be seen.

Once the wave passed, "all" that was left was the flash of the explosion which became the star they'd never seen before. As explosions do, even super novae, the flash faded and the star disappeared from site. But while it shone, it shone with unusual brilliance. While the phenomenon is easily explained, getting it to happen at just the right time is a miracle on an astronomic scale.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Helaman 11-12 - The unsteadiness of man

In Chapter 12, Mormon decries the fallibity and wickedness of man, lamenting that even the dust of the Earth is greater than man because it obeys the voice of God. In chapter 11, Mormon recounts two complete cycles of wickedness/punishment/repentance and righteousness with a return to wickednes. It starts with the remarkable demonstration of the power God granted to Nephi over the elements when Nephi prays that God send a famine to end the bloodshed then occuring amongst the Nephites.

God hears Nephi and shuts the heavens causing a famine that last for several years leading to the deaths of thousands by starvation and the re-awakening in the people that they really are dependent upon God. They repent, both the Lamanites and the Nephites, resulting in a period where both nations are converted to the Lord, but then in a matter of a few years they slide back to where, at the end of the chapter they are waxing stronger in their pride and wickedness.

This is a sobering section to read since the applicability to our day is obvious: in our prosperity, how often and how quickly do we ever turn to God? While it's convenient and easy to say this is a societal problem, the truth is society is a collection of individuals including me. My behavior contributes to the behavior of the whole. Am I listening to God as I should? (No. Not nearly as much as I should.) Am I living the Gospel consistent with what I know? (Obviously No.) Am I at least trying to? (Not nearly as often as I should.) Alas, I fit Mormon's description when he says, "How quick to be lifted up in pride... how quick to boast... how slow to remember God and give ear unto His counsels."

Fortunately, God is merciful and very kind. While I'm grateful for that truth, that's a bank account I don't want to overdraw.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Helaman - 10: With Great Power

Imagine yourself walking along a street somewhere and God begins speaking to you and tells you, "I'm giving you my power over this people: to do whatever you want to them. Because," here's the catch, "I know you wont do anything I wouldn't approve of."

Now the back story: you've just finished a mission that has taken you throughout the entire nation and to cap the mission, you were arraigned in court for the murder of the Chief Judge of the land, think the President of the US for a comparison, and miraculously exhonerated. What do you do? Go home and catch your breath first then go out?

This happens to Nephi in Chapter 10, and what he did was head right back out on the road to tell the people what the Lord had told him to say. He never made it home. Talk about being a super hero!

When I casually read this, I get caught up in thinking how "cool" it would be to have that kind of power given to me by God. Fortunately for us all, that's never happened and not likely either, but it did for Nephi. It's instructive to see what he did with that and why he was given the power... God trusted him.

That's a high bar! But living so God trusts me enough that if it were ever necessary, He could give me that kind of power is something I aspire to. Said another way, I want to live so God holds me in the same esteem he had for Nephi. All I have to do is be righteous and tireless in doing only those things He approves of. Not. Sigh.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Helaman 7-9 - The Futility of Hiding From God

These three chapters comprise the account of Nephi warning the people of God's judgements that are coming to them because of their rejection of Christ. As proof of the truthfulness of his words, he tells them of the murder of Seezoram the Chief Judge by his brother Seantum. The remainder of the chapters describe the account of the five who are sent to prove what Nephi said, their capture and the eventual exhoneration of both them and Nephi when Seantum is caught and confesses his guilt.

The main story is evidence of God knowing all that happens. My sense from the account is God knows things in real-time, as they happen. Additionally, there are some nuggets on human nature and a peek into things the Nephites knew in their scripture, which we don't have in ours. That's what I want to delve into today...

Human nature: the wicked, in this case, the Gadiantons are cowards. Rather than confront Nephi directly and go head to head against him, they try to incite the people against him so they can use the power of their office to silence him. Their resolve is foiled because Nephi convinces enough that they dare not act out of fear of the political cost such actions would exact. We see this today in our politicians who are on the whole cowards who hide their true selves by the trappings of their office and their "leadership" just rides safely within the swells of public opinion.

Human nature: the wicked seek to control people through anger and fear, while they are controlled by fear of the loss of power. It's true for them and us: what do you see in the news today? Stories that incite fear or anger or both. By doing that, they shape and influence our thoughts and subsequently our actions. Faith in God however, gives us the power to go against this to do what is right.

Human nature: don't underestimate people's ability to forget and ignore the obivous when it doesn't server their selfish ambitions. The Nephites, who less than ten years earlier had lost half their country to the Lamanites were boasting of the might of their cities and how they coulnt' be captured.

The nugget: In the middle of the story, as Nephi testifies of how many witnesses in the scriptures there are of the coming of Christ (a lot more than what we have in our Bible, by the way) there's a comment in Helaman 9:18 where he says, "a great many thousand years before his coming," prophets testified of it. How many years do you think that means? I'd dare say, that in reality, prophets have been testifying of Christ's coming from the beginning of recorded history. While modern Bible scholars say the earliest written text of the Bible probably occurred some 1800 years BCE, about the time of the establishment of the Davidic Kingdom, the scriptures tell us these prophecies were written from the time of Adam.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Helaman 6 - Willfull Disobedience

When we hear the truism about the Book of Mormon, that is was "written for our day," I wonder how much credence we give to it? As I look  back on what I've read, I see a symmetry between the events in the book and the history of our country. It's not exact by any means, but it's close enough and follows a pattern that has repeated throughout history.

It goes something like this: a nation is founded as a conglomerate of people who share a common set of beliefs join together. At first, idealism and a strong adherence to the founding principles knits the country together through a turbulent but mostly prosperous growth period. Then as the culture matures, a rot of first pride, then greed and corruption follow. It spreads from the cities out into the general populace. As it spreads, the original principles are abandoned for "new" and "enlightened" way of thinking, then the nation fails from the inside out leading to a period of anarchy and chaos until a new society springs up in its place.

As far as I can tell this happened at least four times in the Book of Mormon, first with the Jaredites, although if I spent more time thinking about it, I could identify several more of these cycles in their history. Then with the Nephites, you have the first reign of the Nephite Kings in the Land of Nephi. Then, after the Nephites flee the Land of Nephi before it is overrun by the Lamanites, they join to form the second reign of Kings and Judges with the Mulekites. The fourth starts when Jesus Himself comes after His ascension into Heaven to visit and teach the Nephites and Lamanites who survive the great destruction. At the end of this last cycle, the Nephites cease to exist as a society and the Lamanites degenerate to what was found when Columbus came.

In Helaman chapter six, the Nephites culture is degenerate and Nephi warns them of what is about to happen to them because they have deliberately turned away from God and what they know to be true. (v24 is particularly scathing.) I see this in our own country today. How many are abandoning their morals and values for money and the "nice things" of life? How many are ignoring their family for pornography and online gambling? How many are turning from the Gospel because they think they know better? I could go on, but this is enough to make the point: we are on the same trajectory.

The aim point identified by the Book of Mormon is not comforting.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Helaman 6 - Role Reversal

Helaman chapter six is extraordinary in the Book of Mormon because this is the first time in the history of the Lehites the Lamanites as a whole are more righteous than the Nephites. It's a powerful lesson on God's impartiality in that He blesses the righteous and witholds those blessings from the wicked.

The difference between the two is demonstrated throughout the chapter in how they individually respond to the secret combination, the Gadiantons. The now righteous Lamanites, when they discover them in their midst, do everything they can to eradicate them while the Nephites embrace them.

A geography note: before the ascendance of the Gadiantons, the Lamanites and Nephites experience several years of extraordinary prosperity because they are able to travel freely between both "nations." Here the land northward is named, the Land of Mulek and the land southward is named, the Land of Lehi.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Helaman Chapter 5 - The Voice of God

Helaman Chapter five is so loaded with information you will miss if you aren't paying attention when you read it. The casual reader will typically notice the promise in verse 12 and the impressive feat where the converted Lamanites and Nephite dissenters give back to the Nephites the lands they'd taken from them in v52. Those are impressive in their own right, but how many notice the detailed description of God's voice? Or the geography lesson? How many see the great power of listening to the Spirit, and how that gives one the ability to speak with God's power and authority even to the convincing of those with murderous intent? How many notice they traveled freely through the Lamanite controlled Nephite lands including Zarahemla and surrounding areas? How many noticed they travelled into a far north country to preach to both Nephites and Lamanites? (Heartlanders rejoice?!)

These hints show the culture of the Lamanites and Nephites is far more extensive and complicated than we typically think. It is another evidence to me that it is not the fabrication of a farm boy or even one assisted by a school teacher and a preacher.

Many critics allege the Book of Mormon was the brain child of more than one person, but consider this thought experiement: The television show, I Love Lucy, was the result of many talented and smart people. It was a popular show in its day. The cultural comments it makes however place it in 1950's America. It could exist at no other time because the values it holds up as humorous are insulting today. It reeks of the culture of the day in which it was created. Virtually every work of fiction is similarly "fingerprinted" by the prevailing culture known to the authors.

In this light, the Nephite and Lamanite cultures in the Book of Mormon, should show fingerprints of 1820 America. But where was the aristocracy that held both political and religious power in Joseph's day? Where did people freely travel into even enemy held lands? While I'll grant there are common values such as the love of liberty in the book but those are by design. In my opinion, inspiriation guided Mormon to reveal those aspects of his society which we would understand as he compiled the stories that became our Book of Mormon. But the things he leaves in the footnotes and sidebars reveal a culture that is alien to ours. Had he put those elements in, we would not have recognized it nor identify with it as we do today. It truly was, written for our day.

Well, I'm rambling, but such are the adventures contained in Helaman Chapter five.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Helaman 5 - the Rock

Helaman 5 is one of those chapters in the Book of Mormon that if you could only have a few, this is one you’d want above many others. There’s so much here, I can’t cover it all in a single day, so today I just write about v12 and what leads up to it. Tomorrow, I’ll write about the rest.

Helaman 5:12 is the entire message of the Book of Mormon distilled into a single paragraph. I can’t say it any better, so here it is:

And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.

I’ve often wondered what the foundation is Helaman is referring to. As near as I can tell, it means your faith in Christ: living with the confidence that He knows you, loves you and leads you along this bumpy road called "life," and that you can entrust your life to Him.

My best part is the promise that if we live this way, then we will never fall, as in fall away from Him and His light into darkness and misery.

I cling to that.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Helaman 4 - A warning for our day

This is a sad chapter to read that is also a dire warning to us. Dissenters incite the Lamanites again to come to war against the Nephites. While this is nothing new, what is interesting is the first time they try, the Lamanites refuse because they are afraid of the Nephites. It’s not until another group of dissenters come that they finally succeed in getting the Lamanites angry enough to go to war.
I think it interesting that of all the tools Satan uses to control people, the one that is most successful in getting one group to kill another is anger. In our day, agitators use the bromide “we have been oppressed for too long, so let us do what we must to right this wrong." Then, in the name of justice they attack, harm and destroy innocent people. 
Like today, those early agitators were always members of the society they attacked. Rarely did the Lamanites start a war with the Nephites rather it was the Nephite dissenters. Today is no different as most agitators live well while their followers live in squalor or far below them financially. While claiming to help them, they abuse them for their personal political aims all the while inciting them against a group of people they claim are their oppressors.
The other powerful message of Helaman chapter four is a dire warning to the church about pride and wickedness. Unlike earlier wars, this time the Lamanites are successful and take control of more than half the Nephite lands. Mormon observes they did so because the Nephites, especially those who claimed membership in the church had become as wicked as the Lamanites. He also noted the church began to dwindle not only in numbers but personal righteousness. They did so because they quit believing in the revelations and denied the Holy Spirit. 

The Lord quit helping them because of their pride in their wealth, their oppression of the poor and their mocking of their humble, devout brethren. Err we are aware, it will be the same for us.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Helaman 2 - 3

In Helaman chapters two and three, a lot of territory is covered but not to a great depth. Here is where Mormon makes another reference to being able to tell just a small fraction of the whole story. He mentions in passing the reign of Helaman 2 as Chief Judge and the entrenchment of the Gadiantons in society in the more settled parts of the land. I read that and I think of cities which fits my expectation that in cities, for whatever reason, it’s easier to get disconnected from God which gives rise to these secret combinations.

Mormon writes how there are great migrations of people away from the lands, including the Ammonites yet almost as just a footnote mentions it was wars and dissensions which are behind these. He goes into no detail about them: all they get is a single sentence.

In chapter three, he spends time on the growth of the church and how tens of thousands of people join the church. He elaborates on the astonishment of the people at the growth and how Heaven is freely open to all who want it. He then observes that because of this and the general prosperity of the people, pride enters into the church, then he clarifies… probably because you can’t undo engraving in metal plates, that what he meant was the church wasn’t proud, but people who professed membership in the church were. He goes on to explain how they begin persecuting the humble followers and as in Alma’s day, they resort to fasting and prayer that they might be blessed by God with more faith and the ability to endure the times.

This is a lesson for us today… we live in times where persecution will increase against those who sincerely strive to live Christlike lives. As it was for them, so it will be for us: to endure the time we must fast, pray and lean on God.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Helaman 1: Cultural Observations

Helaman chapter one at first glance is the rather unremarkable telling of yet another war precipitated by dissident Nephites who stir up the Lamanites and persuade them to go kill those nasty, evil Nephites. In fact, the main event in this chapter is the rise of THE secret combination which becomes the Gadiantons and one Kishkumen who murders the legally elected governor, Pahoran.

But tucked into the narrative is one of the little comments Mormon inserts which show, the Nephite and Lamanite cultures are nothing like 1820 United States. (Yes, there will be a touch of apologist in this blog: deal with it.)

In particular is a little nugget I've never noticed before which is hidden in verse 13:

"And now behold, Pacumeni was appointed, according to the voice of the people, to be chief judge and a governor over the people, to reign in the stead of his brother Pahoran; and it was according to his right...."

He had a right to be chief governor? Really? That's amazing! Back in Mosiah 26, when King Mosiah sets up judges to rule the country who are appointed by the voice of the people you get the idea these are elections like we have today where "anyone" with the money and backing can run for the office. A closer read of the scriptures, show this isn't really the case with the Nephites and this little verse, hammers the idea home that there was a ruling class, an aristocracy if you will, which controlled not only the government but the religion too.

Think about it. There was no "Quorum of Apostles" in which leadership was based upon a seniority system as we have today. Instead the role of High Priest went from father to son for many generations, right down to the coming of Christ in fact. I'm not discounting the personal righteousness of these leaders, merely making the observation that they lived in a different culture and time and God, in His matchless wisdom and grace, worked within it to lead, bless and teach His children.

But, I digress...

Can you imagine anyone in Upstate New York shortly after the War of 1812, with grandparents who fought in the War for Independence and steeped in the tradition of unalienable rights and a democratically elected Republic to come up with a culture where it's okay to have the political and religious leadership be a right belonging to an aristocracy? I can't. Nevertheless, there it is, hiding all these years in plain sight.

The point of all this is the Lamanite and Nephite cultures were far different from ours and presented with a richness of detail an uneducated farm boy would likely think of or even consider including in a story.

There's more in this chapter to talk about, but that's for another time.

Enjoy the day!


By way of introduction, I'm one of many millions of Mormons who live in on this planet, although I happen to spend most of my time in the heart of Mormondom near Salt Lake City, Utah. I've never had a calling in the Church most outsiders would think remarkable: not a Bishop or anything like that. But what I do have, that for me is important, is a passion for the Book of Mormon.

Late last year, one of my local leaders, recounted a story how he once read the Book of Mormon by getting one and reading it, but in this instance he did so with a highlighter and simply marked passages of scripture which struck him as significant or insightful and uplifting. At the time, I was in the midst of my own personal struggle, but something touched me (the Holy Ghost) and I felt a need to do the same thing. I'm now more than six months into this project, pretty much for every day since then, I've read the book, marker and pens in hand, and have thoroughly marked up my large-print quad with hi-lights, comments and cross references to other scriptures. It has been and continues to be one of my most amazing ongoing spiritual experiences of my life!

Recently, I got the idea to share my experiences through a blog. So, here it is: My Adventure through the Book of Mormon. I'm well into the Book of Helaman by now, so I'm going to pick up the narrative at that point in this blog. As I have time, I'll go back and write about the many special places I've found along the way. So, let's see what happens. You're welcome to come along for the ride.