Book of Mormon

April 24, 2004 | 22 comments
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What do you think is the most gorgeous and inspiring thing about the Book of Mormon? Be specific; don’t just say it testifies of Christ. I am searching for ways of putting across the power of the book to non-Mormon readers.

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22 Responses to Book of Mormon

  1. Julie in Austin on April 24, 2004 at 11:47 am

    fix

  2. Bob Caswell on April 24, 2004 at 3:07 pm

    For me, it is the eloquence of King Benjamin’s words. Great advice that worked then and works now. Honestly, on the advice-o-meter of better living, I haven’t found anything to match chapters one through five of Mosiah. But that could just be me needing that kind of advice…

  3. Ben Huff on April 24, 2004 at 3:58 pm

    The development of what it is to be redeemed, via the change of heart. And my favorite passage on this is Alma 36. It’s also a beautiful chiasmus. For a while that has been my favorite chapter in the Book. I think the development of this doctrine of the change of heart, as it is enmeshed with the other unique Book of Mormon teachings on salvation, is the most gorgeous and inspiring thing about it.

  4. tyler durden on April 24, 2004 at 5:23 pm

    although it’s one of the hardest things to follow, i love the book of mormon’s commandments to help out the poor and it’s condemnation of the accumulation of riches. especially those from king benjamin (necessary for salvation), amulek (necessary to recieve answers to prayers), and moroni (condemning readers of the book of mormon. a.k.a. us)

  5. tyler durden on April 24, 2004 at 5:24 pm

    although it’s one of the hardest things to follow, i love the book of mormon’s commandments to help out the poor and it’s condemnation of the accumulation of riches. especially those from king benjamin (necessary for salvation), amulek (necessary to recieve answers to prayers), and moroni (condemning readers of the book of mormon. a.k.a. us)

  6. Grasshopper on April 24, 2004 at 10:21 pm

    I think the Book of Mormon’s discussions of revelation (2 Nephi 29) faith (Alma 32) and good and evil (Moroni 7) are the most inspiring things in the Book of Mormon. They provide a very inclusive and pragmatic approach to God.

  7. bj moses on April 24, 2004 at 11:47 pm

    Its presience. Its condemnation of lawyers and judges. Its timeliness and timelessness (especially when juxtaposed against D&C). Its power to polarize.

  8. smalltownlawyer on April 25, 2004 at 2:57 am

    The most inspiring thing to me about the Book of Mormon is the real-to-life, show-all-the-warts account of the dysfunctional family of Lehi, and how God uses this family to bring to pass a timeless record. Having a few wayward kids of my own there are a lot of lessons to be taught in this first book, not the least of which is that our children come pre-programmed and that chances are that Nephi would have been a great kid despite his parents. Ditto for Laman and Lemuel

    As Neal Maxwell has stated, family life is a great laboratory. Lehi’s family was a wonderful experiment that brought about two great conflicting societies just like God wanted.

  9. Rob on April 25, 2004 at 5:17 am

    Or maybe how oppressive patriarchal cultures where fathers browbeat their children into submission create dysfunctional families, alienating and factionalizing some to the point of creating multi-generational conflict and violence?

    For me, everyone in the BOM is flawed in unique ways that, when contrasted with the perfect example of Christ, can help us see our own imperfections–see as we are seen–and give us both desire to follow the Son and hope of redemption.

    If bloody sword-wielding Nephites and Lamanites can be redeemed, there’s hope for us all…if only we’ll repent.

  10. Mike on April 25, 2004 at 6:36 am

    The begining of Moroni 8 is absolutely touching- but I don’t know that it would really be touching to one who hadn’t just read the rest of the Book of Mormon, or some one who did not have a love for that book.

    I agree with Alma 36 and with the first five chapters of Mosiah- and there are so moany other things I love at different times it is realy hard to specify- however I think that Pahoran’s response to Moroni is absolutley amazing and far too often overlooked.

  11. Kingsley on April 25, 2004 at 6:41 am

    A passage of Hugh Nibley’s has haunted me for years:

    “I ask LDS students what they would do with a thousand years of life, guaranteed, all expenses paid, and they give silly answers because they have been conditioned by the actuary to accept short lives with the prospect that all they will ever get is right here. They do not see the breakthrough. The great breakthroughs of 1820 and 1827, which changed everything, should settle the issue—but is it all real? Joseph shows us that it is: When solid plates pass between inhabitants of different worlds and visitors from above lay hands upon the heads of Joseph and his brethren, something is afoot. If it stopped there, we would be bemused, but Joseph kept his promise to tell us what was on the plates, to give us glimpses of things that lie beyond human reckoning.”

    “Joseph kept his promise to tell us what was on the plates”—whenever I hear of wars and rumors of wars and nation rising against nation and kingdom against kingdom and famines and pestilences and earthquakes in diverse places, and whenever I see iniquity abounding and the love of men waxing cold and the earth filling up with violence and my heart begins to fail me for fear, a very still, very small voice seems to say—Oh yes, Joseph kept his promise. There really is a God. There really is a resurrection—if I am buried beside my father I will one day rise up with him and clasp hands with him and cry, “Oh my father, my father”—that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there. Adam’s curse is just that, a curse—to earn my bread by the sweat of my face is a curse which will one day be lifted. To raise children in sorrow is a curse which will one day be lifted. The Good News is really, really good news—it’s more than a guide to greater earthly effectiveness—all that too-lovely-to-be-true language about God wiping the tears from our eyes and there being no more death neither sorrow nor crying and neither shall there be any more pain, all that talk of communities of creators skillfully manipulating stars and planets and heady spaces, all that kitschy churchspeak, e.g. families are forever, is for Real with a capital R—and I know it because Joseph kept his promise.

    In that way, the very existence of the Book of Mormon is inspiring and gorgeous for me; it’s inspiring and gorgeous just sitting on my desk, it, itself, solid, real. Joseph always kept his promise. When he mentions happily that he happened to purchase some papyri containing the writings of Abraham last week, my first instinct is to chuckle and give him a fatherly pat on the head; but when he lays the Book of Abraham in my lap, thrillingly summarizing in 11 pages a mountain of apocrypha which isn’t available to him, I must pause and think things over.

    C.S. Lewis labored hard his whole life to answer critics of Christianity who said that Jesus must be made up because He’s just the sort of thing a person would want—an obvious example of wish fulfillment. Joseph Smith labored hard for two months and gave the critics the ultimate answer—another testament of Jesus.

  12. Ethesis on April 25, 2004 at 8:43 am

    I think it is interesting to look at the Book of Abraham from the internal view (of the book as a book, completely seperated from how Joseph Smith said he received it) and the richness and clarity it has in pulling together so many psuedographia.

    It makes for a very strong testimony of the book.

    Anyway, got off topic, looking at the Nibley quote.

  13. Charles on April 26, 2004 at 2:46 am

    It was none other than the visitation of Christ in Third Nephi that blew me away as I was investigating the Church in 1976, convincing me that the Book of Mormon is true.

  14. St Balthasar on April 26, 2004 at 12:27 pm

    The most gorgeous parts of the Book of Mormon for me are:

    1 – When Jesus first appeared to the Nephites and they ALL, ONE BY ONE, went to have a personal experience with their Savior;

    2 – When Jesus blessed the Nephite children and angels came down and ministered;

    3 – King Benjamin’s speach;

    4 – King Mosiah’s remarkable transformation of the Nephite kingdom to a constitutional republic administered by judges;

    5 – Mormon’s awesome remarks about faith, hope & charity (Mormoni 7), admonishing us to pray with ALL ENERGY OF HEART to be filled with the Love of Christ; and

    6 – The description, by Mormon, of the more ancient “Captain” Moroni, telling us that if all men were or ever would be like him (Moroni) then the foundations of hell would be broken up.

    I study the Book of Mormon all the time (ever since I was a teenager) and find it inspiring, uplifting, beautiful and wonderful (except for the “Book of Mormon” within the Book of Mormon; I hate the final destruction of the Nephites and Mormon’s “Oh Ye Fair Ones!” lament; I fear that many in our day may have grounds to utter very similar words as we witness the destruction of our civilization as it drowns more and more in the awful stench of selfishness and sin). I never thought of using the word “gorgeous” to describe it, though…

  15. Adam Greenwood on April 26, 2004 at 12:29 pm

    What a splendid question.

    Captain Moroni and his letters have rare dramatic and spiritual force. The last days of the Jaredites has a rare dramatic power.

    But the summit of the Book of Mormon really is Christ’s visit, BUT ONLY if one doesn’t start with it. One really needs to read at least chapters 9 and 10 before reading 11.

  16. Gary Cooper on April 26, 2004 at 2:25 pm

    For me, it is the use of the word, and the powerful concept it conveys, “SNATCHED”. The BoM teaches me of how awful our puny human state of sin is, and shows how Christ’s Atonement can “snatch” us from the clutches of death and hell; how constant attention to prayer and righteousness allows Christ to constantly “snatch” us from the dangers we face on a daily basis; the detailed descriptions of anti-christs and their false doctrines, so we can be “snatched” from their deceptions when we see them in their modern forms; how no matter how great the physical and spiritual dangers we face, God can do whatever He needs to in order to make sure we can accomplish what we need to in mortality before our lives are over, “snatching” us from danger by dreams of warning, visions of the future, calls to flee in the night, calls to arms and a miraculous strengthening of those arms in battle against impossible odds. Through it all, God is the loving parent, ready to run to the defense of His little ones, and “snatch” us away in His arms.

  17. William Morris on April 26, 2004 at 2:27 pm

    I agree with Adam. And would trace it back further. I think for me it really starts with Samuel the Lamanite. His prophecies and the people’s reaction to them — and how they impact all the events surrounding Christ’s birth — just blows me away and really sets the stage for 33 years later.

  18. Kevin Christensen on April 27, 2004 at 9:27 pm

    I’m impressed with its existence. Start in July 1828 with D&C 3, when Joseph Smith has nothing going for him but failure. Then, two months of dictating from a hat, and everything rolls on.

    I have a favorite passage in Ether 12:39, with Moroni’s “And then shall ye know that I have seen Jesus, and that he hath talked with me face to face, and that he told me in plain humility, even as a man telleth another in mine own language concerning these things.” I got my first spiritual witness reading that, during my third reading, just before my mission.

    I’m impressed with how it steadfastly refuses to be what its critics expected. The stark contrast with Dogberry’s parody, for example, the contrasts with the Lost 10 Tribes theories, the failure to fit with the American Revolution. I’m impressed with how reading it as ancient reveals far more than do attempts to read it as modern, for example in comparing attempts to read Benjamin’s discourse as a revival versus the coronation ritual, feast of the tabernacles, day of atonement, covenant ceremony, temple ceremony, ancient farewell address, the complex chiastic structure, and lovely and meaningful passages throughout. I love that I can know all of these things, and still be stunned, as I was recently, noticing Benjamin wove in the themes of every line of Ps 82.

    I’m impressed the astonishing density of ideas, that we can approach it from so many different angles, for so many years, and still be amazed by what it contains. For instance, in recent years I’ve picked up clues from Robert Alter, Richard Rust, and Alan Goff on the use of type scenes. I’ve looked in light of near death experience research. I’ve compared Alma 32 to Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. I’ve compared 3 Nephi to Eliade’s Cosmos and History: The Myth of the Eternal Return. I’ve compared the Book of Mormon to the recent, revisionist Biblical scholarship of Margaret Barker. I’ve been stunned by scholarship take approaches I’d never have thought of myself in two life times, by Sorenson, Nibley, Welch, Tvedtnes, Peterson, Roper, and many others. I’m impressed by Brant Gardner’s comment on how much changed when he started “looking for Mesoamerica in the Book of Mormon, rather than the Book of Mormon in Mesoamerica.” I’m impressed by the finicky blindness of the critics, and the way that over time, the seemingly insurmountable arguments against it wither and die over time.

    I’m impressed by the stunning beauty of expression in Nephi’s Psalm, by the visit of the Risen Lord, by the haunting sadness of Moroni, by the way the war stories rise to my conciousness whenever I read about the terrible ethnic violence that has erupted in various places. I’m impressed by its moral stand, confident witness of Christ, the bold simplicity and directness that underlies the constant surprising revelations. I’m impressed that is has so much power to move and inspire me, after 35 years of reading and study, that each new reading, each new approach shows me more what an amazing and exciting story we have.

    Kevin Christensen
    Temporarily St. Louis

  19. Richard Bushman on April 28, 2004 at 6:41 pm

    Thank you all for inspiring comments. I happened to need them on this particular day.

  20. Adam Greenwood on April 28, 2004 at 6:48 pm

    Alma 36 is one of the sweetest and most moving passages in the Book of Mormon even without knowing its chiasmus.

  21. Jason Wallace on January 17, 2006 at 4:37 pm

    What do I find most inspiring about the Book of Mormon? To answer that question, I don’t think I can start by pointing out specific chapter(s), story(ies) or doctrine(s) before stepping back and remembering what Joseph taught us about God and the purpose of life.

    First and foremost, Joseph taught us who and what we worship. We believe in God the Eternal Father and in his Son Jesus Christ and in the Holy Ghost. He taught us that the Father is a perfected man who has a body of flesh and bones, the Son also, but the Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit.

    Next Joseph taught us who we are, where we came from, why we are here and where we may go after we leave this life.

    With this “big picture” perspective, I can identify what I find so inspiring about The Book of Mormon. The answer is that it helps me:
    1) learn what I need to know (principles and doctrines)
    2) understand the things I must do (faith, repentance, baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost, plus enduring to the end)
    3) recognize what I must become (character & attributes), SO THAT. . .

    . . . I can fulfill my divine destiny and enjoy eternal life, which is living with God in the family unit.

    My favorite Book of Mormon Chapters are: 2 Nephi 2, 9, 31. Mosiah 2-5. Alma 32, 34, 41, and 42. 3 Nephi 11. Mormon 7, 8 and 9. Moroni 7, 8, 9 and 10.

  22. Martin E. Lee on May 1, 2006 at 12:05 am

    I love the complexity, credibility, consistency, originality and integrity of the stories, personalities, doctrine, politics, economics in the Book. There are 100 plus ( I should count them) indivdual names, place names, relationships. These individuals, cities, families, political leaders are never conflicted. These families move and multiply and then new cultures are discovered (introduced). One culture dates back to the Tower of Bable and another group are nearly contemporay with the original family. The consistency of the people and story is perfect. The doctrines are clear and consistent with Old and New Testament. And the doctrines and story were either translated or made up by a young man with less than an elementary education. If Jesus is the anchor to my soul then the Book of Mormon is the foundation to my faith. MEL