Tuesday, March 31, 2015
befriending the Book of Mormon: revised post.
There are many challenges that come with reading the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon. Sometimes it’s simply hard to follow. Sometimes it’s really annoying when the writer goes off on a huge tangent about confusing things, like Isaiah or the money system. Sometimes the language is too thick and it’s near impossible to understand what they are trying to say. Sometimes it’s just too difficult to relate to the people being talked about, because gosh darn it, I’ve never been to war or been in a place where a type of punishment is being stoned to death or burned alive.
Despite all these difficulties, there is still hope. Before you roll your eyes or let out an exasperated sigh, let me share an experience of my own that might shed some light on this ‘hope’ I speak of:
I remember Sunday school, growing up there was a girl who was one of my best friends in my age group. She came from a big family and I remember her impressive abilities to recite the stories from the Old and New Testament in the Bible, just like that. It came from her parents teaching their children Bible stories via the kids cartoon, Veggie Tales. When I would go to her house, we would sometimes watch this show and it was highly entertaining while also being somewhat informative. Her favorite bible story was about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, but as per learning it from Veggie Tales, she affectionately called them Rack, Shack, and Benny (and could only remember them as vegetables). I was always so impressed by her ability to remember these stories, however child-like they were. It was as if she was really learning about these individuals, not just about the stories. She took these historical men and became their friend through her ability to personify them in some way or another.
Not quite with me? Well, don’t give up yet. Keep reading.
As one studies the Book of Mormon, one might take the same approach my dear childhood friend took as she learned the names, even used the nicknames given in the cartoon. There may not be cartoon reenactments of the stories and histories found in the Book of Mormon, but that shouldn’t stop anyone from creating their own relationships with those they read about. She was able to do this through Veggie Tales, finding characters in a show more relatable than simply names on a page: How many movies are based on actual historical events? How many plays simply recreate a history so students can actually learn them properly? Because really, what high school student (or most college students for that matter) cracks open their history textbook before the test comes around? Reading scripture is hard—totally worth it. But still hard. So, to humanize the ‘stories’ we read about in the Book of Mormon, we need to create relationships with the situations and people we read about; the real people, in real situations. We need to open the pages of the scriptures with the intent of creating relationships with what we read. Really, what we need to do is befriend the Book of Mormon.
Maybe someday I, even all of us, can be as familiar and comfortable with the history of the peoples found in the Book of Mormon as my friend was with Rack, Shack, and Benny.