Word 0002 ~ I, Nephi

Lehi and his people arrive in the promised land - Arnold Friberg
Lehi and his people arrive in the promised land – Arnold Friberg

I have been talking with Mormon missionaries and visiting a local LDS church. They encouraged me to read from the Book of Mormon which they count as guiding authority for their own spiritual path. I fear no new ideas and I am open to all exploration in the world of the Spirit. I have finished reading First Nephi. It focuses on a family whose Patriarch is Lehi and married to Sariah with four sons; Laman, Lemuel, Sam, and Nephi, in the order of age. Laman and Lemuel were the constantly reprimanded sons whose faith was often subject to evaporation under pressure. Sam was faithful and supportive of his father and his youngest brother who were both gifted visionaries inspired by prophetic capacity. They were a Jewish family of the tribe of Joseph, with the Egyptian language and Hebrew belief system. Lehi received warning from God that Jerusalem was coming under judgment and facing the coming of the Babylonian captivity. Lehi sought to warn his neighbors in an attempt to alter that fate or extend escape to those who would listen. He came under assault and after prayer, left his riches and residence behind and took his family into the wilderness for refuge. They recovered sacred and administratively important words recorded on brass plates at the direction of God, probably in preparation for their long term departure. Lehi and Nephi have visions of the Tree of Life. They are directed to migrate to a “Land of Promise” that is not Israel. It is the American continent. Nephi received directions to build a ship and off they go. They arrive in the new Promised Land around 590 BC. That is the historical gist of the book as I understand it.

I took an Integrated Arts course in college and we discussed the willing suspension of disbelief in order to enjoy a movie or a story. It is basically necessary to ignite the imagination and explore the creation of other minds. I did the same thing as I began reading in the Book of Mormon. These were the internal critics I had to silence in order to eat the popcorn and watch the story unfold:

  1. The Primary Prophet of the Mormon church, Joseph Smith, lived from 1805 to 1844 in the United States and was the writer of these words. He is rewriting history as prophecy. He synthesizes new testament ideas into an old testament environment. (Missionary Response was that he has faced some doubts himself in younger years but they are no different than problems with the Bible that has come under intellectual criticism. Ultimately it is the reality of what it produces in his own life and how empowering it is for him to face daily living. Good answer, I thought. Thomas Jefferson rewrote the Bible removing some of the “fantastical portions” and Thomas Paine wrote critically of the Scriptures in his book “The Age of Reason.” There are many writings confronting the internal consistency of the Bible. See wikipedia link here.There is also a site called the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible that confronts contradictions in the Bible, the Koran, and in the Book of Mormon. See link here. I will write separately on my own beliefs concerning these problems in a later post.)   ———-
  2. In my social science studies I know of no anthropological studies that support the idea of records being kept on metal plates. (Missionary Response was that there are Mormon authorities who have gathered anthropological information that support the prospect of recording information in such a durable fashion. He said he would find a link for me, but I found one myself. I found it interesting and I could see the benefits of a people given to migration to develop such a system. See link here.)   ——–
  3. The 3 and 8 witnesses that verify the supernatural intervention of the writing of the Book of Mormon had human problems such as vested interests, family ties, susceptibility to magical thinking, and ultimately that all eleven ended up leaving the LDS church. (Missionary preemptive apologetic mention of this problem caused me to check it out. I found a link that confronted this issue. The missionary believed that it was telling that even though these witnesses suffered human problems they never recanted their testimony. Good enough to move on. See link here.)

There are terms in the book I was not familiar with such as “ministry of my people” in Chapter 9. The missionary explained this to be a keeping and promoting of the word of their God. In Chapter 10 I ran into another phrase, “days of probation,” which refers to the fallen state of humanity.

In chapter 11 verse 13 the Holy Spirit appears to Nephi in the form of a human, talking in human speak. When the Holy Spirit says “Look!” the Spirit has disappeared and Nephi’s vision is directed from Jerusalem to Nazareth and sees a Virgin. Now for me, this shows the Holy Spirit appearing in one of It’s many forms but reveals Itself to be the Mother God. The Mormon missionary gave me a bit of a sideways look when I suggested such. So moving on.

The Mormon concept of hell seems to be equipped with a few more chances to evade eternal separation from God including a time in the spirit realm to be taught prior to a final decision. Chapter 14 seemed to touch on the 3 hells of the New Testament, but the missionaries said there is one hell that is hard to get to and you have to really want such a fate. The concept of the Church of the Devil is mentioned but it appears to be something nebulous and not associated with a particular group, unless it is the “everyone else” concept of being a Gentile.

Overall, I gained more from the personologies (see About page) of the young missionaries than the First Book of Nephi.

 

Elect 0004 ~ White Shirts

Mormon Origami - Index Cards with Message on Back - Loved the Creativity
Mormon Origami Index Cards with message on back – Loved the Creativity

The knock on the door to my home jerked me from my routine of maintaining refuge. I opened the door to a couple of white shirts with ties and smiling faces sent from the Mormon Church. For some reason I was open and attracted to the prospect of discussing spiritual things. I arranged to meet them to protect the integrity of the refuge and to provide a comfortable setting for the missionaries to present their story. I was up front that the prospect of me becoming a Mormon was next to nil, but they assured me that it was not necessary that I join the church. The secondary goal of their meeting was to encourage spiritual development. We had the cards on the table and it was time to engage.

Our meetings were held at the local LDS (Latter Day Saints) church. I was given a tour of the church building on our first meeting. For the past three weeks I have attended their church services and every Sunday they partake of the communion with torn up loaf bread and water. I have come to see that this is pragmatic if you take of communion every Sunday. During the course of our private meetings I have seen many missionaries with two that are primary for contact with me. Many are from the American West but I did encounter a South African. I have enjoyed encountering so many different personalities.

I have read the synopsis material they have provided that asserts Joseph Smith a prophet tasked with restoring the Christian Gospel, and their particular take on the salvation message. I was also given a copy of the Book of Mormon and I will talk more of what that reading inspires a bit later on.

I am doing all this to follow the leading of my Gomu. My personology (See my about page) is able to endure and flex with new ideas. The Mormons do not hold to the trinity in doctrine, but in practice I have found that to matter little in daily living. There is the new discussion of a pre-Earth existence and their reality that we as spirit beings planned what we would endure and encounter here on Earth. I like the idea that has the potential to alter life perspective and encourage a relinquishment of the victim’s card in life. Our life is not just part of God’s plan, it is part of our own. How empowering is that!

Another new idea is that the Fall in the Garden of Eden as also part of God’s plan. Without going into great detail I find the overall three pillar plan to be quite resonant. It is resistant to the Roman plan of “In Hoc Signo Vinces.” I like the fact that this church was established in the wet cement period of American history and that it is useful in the perpetuation of the Revolutionary process ignited in this “promised land.”