Preparations for Animation School

It was impressed upon me last evening (11 May 2022) that I was not in a place that I was prepared to attend Animation School successfully.

What is needed for me to successfully attend and give my attentions to animation school?

  • Time
    • With me planning to start full-time work, having a house to work on, other family and calling related responsibilities, what would be needed to make time to continue on this course?
    • Each class should properly demand about 10 hours of your week.
    • What does a time regiment look like that allows for schooling?
      • Not running a business.
      • Not working on major home improvement projects.
  • Financial resources
    • What would be the total cost of attending until completion? -$15k to $20k over 4 years. About 20 classes. 5 classes a year, $5k year.
  • Other Considerations
    • Family Relationships.

Goals for Animation School

  • Create Available Time:
    • Remove Business Ownership Obligations?
    • Secure Full-time Employment to raise funds for Home Renovation Requirements?
    • Home Renovations Completed: Bottom to Top, so that it is not a constant point of attention. (I cannot begin to think about attending animation school until the house has been completed.)

For the Lord Hath Spoken It

Mormon 8 (en español)

Chapter 8 of the book of Mormon starts with a sudden shift in narration from Mormon to his son, Moroni. It come unexpectedly, though chapter 7 is a fitting farewell tribute for Mormon. One get the sense that there was more that Mormon had intended to write.

What stands out to me at the beginning of this chapter is Moroni’s singular purpose, and yet the uncertainty and precariousness of the situation in which he finds himself. He doesn’t know if he will soon be slayed himself. (All it would take is one failed interaction with the enemy. )

The uncertainty of the situation is express in this simple statement: “and how long the Lord will suffer that I may live I know not.” (vs. 5)

After describing the complete and utter destruction of his people, Moroni concludes: “it is the hand of the Lord which hath done it.” (vs. 8)

He points again to the Lord in stating that He would not suffer the disciples of Christ tarry. Moroni has continue the course of his father’s authorship in showing what the Lord was doing among his people.

“And there are none that do know the true God save it be the disciples of Jesus…” (vs. 10) This is an important distinction for Moroni to make: that there are none left that are connected to God, none that know the true God, except it be these three disciples of Jesus. Moroni then says that he has seen them and that they had ministered to him. This makes a great deal of sense to me and also shows me how even one faithful disciple (Moroni) can be preserved, strengthened, and protected to accomplish the work of the Lord.

Tools, means, methods, agents, resources, ministers; the Lord has many things at His disposal to accomplish His work.

And then what promise is unveiled in verse 12! If we will accept the Book of Mormon, and not condemn it or find fault with it, ours will be the blessing of greater knowledge. This is a promise contained elsewhere in the Book of Mormon but also in the Bible:

I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.

John 16:12

And when they shall have received this, which is expedient that they should have first, to try their faith, and if it shall so be that they shall believe these things then shall the greater things be made manifest unto them.
…Behold, I was about to write them, all which were engraven upon the plates of Nephi, but the Lord forbade it, saying: I will try the faith of my people.

3 Nephi 26: 9 & 11 (see 6-11)

Verse 14 is my focus today, and how it is that something that transform in purpose, and even value, according to the Lord’s interactions with it. Precious metal, gold plates, can be rendered of no value for the purpose of monetary gain, when the Lord’s words are recorded upon them. Sudden it is the word of God that literally transforms its purpose and worth. Arguably, the value is increased and becomes of much greater worth than its monetary value.

This has my thoughts going in multiple directions:

  • One, how materials can be transformed into something of much greater importance than what they were before the thing was created.
  • Second, Moroni is talking with the Lord here, and it is the words of the Lord that he is referencing here: “For he truly saith that no one shall have them to get gain;” What I am getting at here is that it is the voice of the Lord that Moroni is hearing, and Moroni’s reference point is direct communication with Him. This is why this book is a witness of Christ. This is a man who is walking hand and hand with the Lord Jesus Christ at the end of his civilization. How else could should a book be conceived?

If you believe this, Brent, and I do, there is more to learn.

I am now focused this morning on a selection found in verses 14 – 16. Moroni points to him that will bring forth the record, and declares his blessed state, and how it is that the Lord will bless him. The reason why Moroni makes this bold statement is because, as we’ve already discussed, this is God’s work, and Moroni knows that whoever it is that gets tasked with revealing it on the other end, he will already be favored of God:

For none can have power to bring it to light save it be given him of God; for God wills that it shall be done with an eye single to his glory, or the welfare of the ancient and long dispersed covenant people of the Lord.

Vs. 15 (Emphasis added)

Something that I have never seriously considered in a scripture study is that violence, physical force, is never condoned in the scriptures. It is always the wrong answer.

Yet how strangely ironic is this dynamic of our physical, mortal experience. How often I have resorted to mild violence in parenting techniques in the past. Frustration boils. This is something that I have repented of, and that I might more deliberately repent of.

And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.
But the days will come, when the violent shall have no power; for all the prophets and the law prophesied that it should be thus until John.
Yea, as many as have prophesied have foretold of these days.
And if ye will receive it, verily, he was the Elias, who was for to come and prepare all things.

Matthew 11:12, JST Matthew 11:13-15

Jesus suffered violence, but did not resort to it in return or in response to his violent accusers. He didn’t even respond with anger, the precursor to a violent disposition.

Reading further into Mormon 8:21-26 and I am considering how powerful is the word of the Lord. Whether or not it is believed, it is brought to pass. The reality of the situation is that this is another agenda, a higher agenda, a divine priority that will be realized. The Lord’s timing and purposes will be fulfilled, regardless of our personal judgments or ambitions. There are covenants at play between the Lord and his prophets. These are prayers of the prophets that the Lord has covenanted to answer in his own time. There are things that cannot be altered by the whims of men.

Judgment and Violence

What is the purpose of judgment and why do we resort to threats, anger, and ultimately violence as a means of enforcement of our judgments.

Considering the following scriptures:

19 For behold, the same that judgeth rashly shall be judged rashly again; for according to his works shall his wages be; therefore, he that smiteth shall be smitten again, of the Lord.

20 Behold what the scripture says—man shall not smite, neither shall he judge; for judgment is mine, saith the Lord, and vengeance is mine also, and I will repay.

Mormon 8:19-20

11 Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge.

12 There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?

James 4:11-12

How to separate myself from those that have a tendency to judge? That’s not what this is saying. It is rather an admonition to avoid rash judgments. Avoid speaking evil of one another.

Christ deals with the human tendency to judge the best:

He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her… Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?… Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

John 8: 7, 10-11

Later in the same chapter:

Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man.

And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me.

John 8:15-16

Continuing my contemplation on violence:

And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.

But the days will come, when the violent shall have no power; for all the prophets and the law prophesied that it should be thus until John.

Yea, as many as have prophesied have foretold of these days.

Matthew 11:12, JST Matthew 11:13-14

God justified the flood and the destruction of all human life, save Noah and his family, because “the earth is filled with violence, and behold I will destroy all flesh from off the earth.”


A father who was gentle beneath his firmness, and a mother who was firm beneath her gentleness.

That My Family Should Partake (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1974), p. 56. Quoted in “Take Especial Care of Your Family”, Elder Neal A. Maxwell, footnote 13.

There exists such a binding power between the Lord and his Saints! It is strong and woven through countless prayers from many years gone by. It is a woven generational tapestry that has already been crafted through the faith of these our dead ancestors. It is now in the hands of the Lord to fulfill His promises. “For the eternal purposes of the Lord shall roll on, until all his promises shall be fulfilled.” (vs. 22)

A restoration to the way things “used to be” is not going to happen.

Moroni is painting a very compelling argument for why the wicked ought not to stand in the way of the Lord. He is illustrating the character of those saints who have petitioned the Lord. These were individuals of such faith that in the very name of the Lord they could move mountains, shake the earth, and destroy prisons. You literally cannot oppose this kind of faith without getting run over.

Why did the Lord honor such faith? “And he knoweth their prayers, that they were in behalf of their brethren.” (vs. 24)

Know Ye

Mormon 7 (en español)

The first thing that stands out to me in this chapter written directly to descendants of Lehi is the invitation to come unto repentance, coupled with a warning: or you cannot be saved.

It is that straight forward: if I do not accept repentance as a way of living, the way of life, then I am nothing and cannot be saved. If I am not willing to embark upon this amazing journey of self-discovery, than have I no purpose. There is no other purpose to our existence (but we don’t usually explain it as such). Rather we cannot be saved (understand what this means, Brent) in the kingdom of God. We cannot claim the position or the space that we were created to occupy, if we do not embrace the prescribed course for our becoming who we are destined to be: heirs of God.

Therefore, we must become as little children (submissive, meek, teachable) or we cannot become as He is. We must educate ourselves unto repentance.

I have more questions and more thoughts as I continue to read this very succinct exposition on the plan of redemption:

  • How do we obtain to a place of guiltless being before the Lord? Surely we cannot just sit upon our laurels with a vain of hope of having done nothing and really hope to be esteemed as guiltless before the Lord when we appear to be judged of him.
  • And if Christ who bore his cross calls on me to bear mine, how can I shrink from such an assignment as this? And not do the hard work of changing myself to be where I need to be to qualify for the work in front of me?
  • It is not enough to stop at the gate of being “sin free”? Why would I be baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, if I only needed Christ’s cleansing effect of being “sin free”? Why would I be found singing praises to the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, if I had only received cleansing through Christ? The Father indeed sent Christ, but what of the Holy Ghost? If there was nothing more to do than to be save? Salvation would be a one-and-done deal, but there is much more to it than this.

I am coming to understand the scope of the work before me to do…. “It is well with my soul.” (See Prayer on 15 Apr 2022.)

I cannot begin to describe the feeling of my soul this morning. The lyrics of the hymn (it might as well be one) “It Is Well with My Soul” are coursing through my veins this morning, stronger than life itself.

My Soul who on Jesus Hath leaned for repose,

My Sin not in part, but in whole,

Is Nailed to the Cross, and I bear it no more,

Praise the Lord, it is well with my soul.

Al leer en español este capítulo, hay la frase en vercículo 5 que dice: –debéis llegar al conocimiento de vuestros padres–. Siempre pensaba que aquí se hablaba a los descendientes de Lehi, pero siento que Mormon está hablando a mi con este mandato. Sentí algo parecido ayer cuando leí la frase: Sabed que son de la Casa de Israel.

Paro en un nuevo día de estudio en el versículo 4, y pregunto –cuales son mis armas de guerra?– ?Cuales son los instrumentos de conflicto en mi vida? Como yo no podría ver el conflicto, ni puedo ver los instrumentos que empleo que están causando conflicto en mi vida.

I have just assigned a title to this entry: “Know Ye.” The phrase “Know ye…” is repeated throughout this chapter, and I hadn’t stopped to consider it until this morning. Mormon is also exhorting that we come to a place of belief. Consider this: “…and if ye believe this ye will know…” (vs. 9) Belief therefore does lead to knowledge. Perhaps knowledge can only be acquired in faith.

O Ye Fair Ones

Mormon 6 (en español)

Going into this final conflict, Mormon is about 74 years old. He states, “I… began to be old.” (see vs. 6)

Mormon has witnessed the entire decimation of his world. His conclusion at the end of it:

O that ye had repented before this great destruction had come upon you. But behold, ye are gone, and the Father, yea, the Eternal Father of heaven, knoweth your state; and he doeth with you according to his justice and mercy.

Verse 22

According to Mormon’s account, 230,000 troops are destroyed. (I am assuming this is not counting women, and children.) Mormon accounts for 12 of his 22 captains by name, and their ten thousand that they each had command over.

I am sitting with the mourning and lamentations of Mormon in this chapter. I am also sitting with the conclusions that Mormon comes to based upon his faith. He does not condemn his people for their loss or their destruction, but he does explain the reality that their faith in Christ would have rendered a different outcome.

O ye fair ones, how could ye have departed from the ways of the Lord! O ye fair ones, how could ye have rejected that Jesus, who stood with open arms to receive you!

Behold, if ye had not done this, ye would not have fallen. But behold, ye are fallen, and I mourn your loss.

Verses 17-18

In verse 19, Mormon draws attention to the family relationships. This is what he’s mourning, and there is something profound in what he is mourning here, that I am not yet seeing. Three sets of familial relationships are referenced here in his mourning: sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, husbands and wives. Coupled with repentance, it is as if Mormon is asking: Did not your family relationships mean anything to you? I think sequence is important here too. We first are sons and daughters, we soon become fathers and mothers, and finally, after the children are grown, we are husbands and wives. Each of these relationships are augmented and refined through repentance (change). This is the ultimate thing that Mormon is mourning the loss of in these verses.

Unlike a Disney film, verse 20 reminds us of the ultimate finality of death, and how no amount of sorrow can reverse course in this thing. Rather, in the verses that follow, Mormon is forward facing, explaining in clear terms what happens next in the real story.

And the day soon cometh that your mortal must put on immortality, and these bodies which are now moldering in corruption must soon become incorruptible bodies; and then ye must stand before the judgment-seat of Christ, to be judged according to your works; and if it so be that ye are righteous, then are ye blessed with your fathers who have gone before you.

Verse 21

I appreciate that Mormon does not take it upon himself to condemn or attempt to judge his people. His lamentation is that they hadn’t repented, so that they might have been spared the fate that came upon them.

Repasando los penúltimos dos versículos de este capítulo, hay varios principios que Mormón hace hincapié:

  • La realidad de la resurrección y que nuestros cuerpos se tornen inmortales
  • La tribunal final de Cristo
  • Somos juzgados con respeto a nuestras obras
  • Buenas obras nos unirán con nuestros padres, los que también obraban en buenas obras.

Esta es doctrina profunda, doctrina verídica.

Clasped in the Arms of Jesus

Mormon 5 (en español)

Versículo 2 termine con el frase: –luchaban por sus vidas sin invocar a aquel Ser que los creó.– Aquí tenemos la distinción entre los justos y los inicuos. Todos tenemos que luchar por nuestras vidas. Pero la diferencia es en el acto de creer en Dios y clamar a Él para sostén o no.

Los nefitas miraron a Mormón como si él en sí mismo tenía algún gran poder para salvarles de la destrucción.

All the secrets of men shall eventual be revealed and read upon the housetops. I don’t know a more succinct way of describing this, and I don’t know even how to classify this little bit of knowledge, but a quick reference to the footnotes associated with this truth shows that it is amply testified of in many books of scripture, so as to have multiple witnesses of this reality: there is nothing hid that shall not be revealed; there is nothing that is done in darkness shall not be brought to light, and read upon the housetops. What mystery is this in and of itself!

…That all things which are hid must be revealed upon the house-tops.

Verse 8

Why does Mormon use the word “must” in this version of the statement. What is imperative about about all things being revealed upon the house-tops?

In verse 10, Mormon describes a part of his intended audience: “also to the Gentiles who have care for the house of Israel, that realize and know from whence their blessings come.”

Then in verse 11, he states that he knows that the current circumstances of the children of Lehi will cause such a person to sorrow because:

  • of the calamity of the house of Israel;
  • of the destruction of this people;
  • that this people had not repented that they might have been clasped in the arms of Jesus.

These verses stand out to me because it is both a description of those among whom I associate, but it’s also a reminder of how I ought to be in relationship to others, a reminder of my baptismal covenants.

In verse 12, Mormon makes a profound observation: “…it is known of God that wickedness will not bring them forth unto them,” which of course is very true. Perhaps this is painfully obvious, but there is something deeply important about understanding the work that is being accomplished by the righteous, that no manner of wickedness will ever randomly, haphazardly hope to accomplish. Yes, the wicked will destroy the wicked. But it is the righteous who will actually attend to the work that needs to be realized.

Me pregunto ¿Por qué regresó Mormón a dirigir los ejércitos de los nefitas? Sabía que 1) no se habían arrepentido de sus iniquidades y 2) no pudieron vencer sus enemigos por sus propios fuerzas. Tal vez lo hizo para mostrar que aún con su liderazgo, la gente tenia que hacer su parte. Un líder justo no hace que el pueblo sea justo.

Al leer de la huida de los nefitas, los que fueron más veloz de los lamanitas vivieron, y los que no, fueron destruidos. Me recuerda un escenario que he repetido en mi mente de tiempo a tiempo cuando pienso: ¿Qué haría yo en tales circunstancias? Pero la realidad es que Mormón se escapó por su fe en Cristo. Los nefitas como pueblo no tenía este poder, pero Mormón todavía había mantenido su fe. Y por esto se escapó.

¿Qué haría yo en tales circunstancias? Actuara según mi fe en el Señor Jesucristo. Es la única manera segura.

Mormón tenía la plena confianza en que él estaba cumpliendo los mandamientos del Señor en guardar y compilar estos anales. También, entendió que de la misma manera se sacara a la luz estas cosas. El mensaje final de todo esto es: confía en Dios, Él puede orquestar los detalles en su debido tiempo. (véase vs. 12 y 13)

I am sitting with my own discipleship this morning (a day before April 2022 General Conference), I am reading (in Spanish still) about the relationship that Mormon says could have been had between this people and God. It sends chills up my spine when I read about the blessings of the Nephites upon the land being deferred to the Gentiles. Does faith matter? Does it make a difference? Absolutely!

I am sitting with the reality that I cannot seem to inspire, persuade or even teach my children how to have faith in Christ. The first step seems to me to learn how to love them, which thing I feel I have also failed dismally at. But this one thing I know for myself and not another: that my life would be dramatically different without faith in Christ.

  • Can I look at the life of another (my children) and see or safely assess whether they are trying to follow Christ, or whether it may be that they are without a guide in the world, thus Satan being responsible for their confusion and outcomes? I feel like I can quite easily see this.
  • Can I love my children enough to sit with them, to help them think about the direction that they really want to be traveling, and to be able to guide them in such a way that will bring them to a better place? I feel like I should be able to do this.
  • So why can I not do this thing? What is impeding me as a father, as a human being from having this kind of love? This kind of clarity about faith in Christ?

Lands of Inheritance

In verse 14, we read about the Jews being persuaded to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ through the Book of Mormon, but then it goes deeper:

…that the Father may bring about, through his most Beloved, his great and eternal purpose, in restoring the Jews, or all the house of Israel, to the land of their inheritance, which the Lord their God hath given them, unto the fulfilling of his covenant;

I understand that there was a covenant made with Abraham, but what does this mean, and what is so eternally significant about lands being received by inheritance? There is something deep hidden here that I am not understanding. This cannot just be about land inheritances, especially when such things are just temporal assignments which end at death.

Hymns seem to have some insights here that may expand my understanding of what a land of inheritance or a promised land might look like:

Come, Come Ye Saints

  • “We’ll find the place which God for us prepared, far away in the west, Where none can shall come to hurt or make afraid, there the saints will be blessed.”

Israel, Israel God Is Calling

  • “… calling thee from lands of woe.”

A land of inheritance… a land of peace… is it desirable that we might possess such a land, so that our family may dwell safely and grow and develop. There is an eternal purpose to having lands where the children of God may safely dwell.

The residual feeling that I have at the end of this morning’s study is that God can be known, and God will be known. It is simply a matter of looking deep enough and studying what is really written in the scriptures that God is unveiled in truth. He is real. His covenants are real. Christ is real. Christ IS the Son of God sent to fulfill covenants made with the house of Israel. This is all very real and true. And it is the most important work taking place in our day, as we are reminded frequently by our prophet-president, Russell M. Nelson.

This chapter ends with an admonition to the gentiles. This is aptly so. As Mormon is facing the end of his nation’s existence, it is not unfathomable to him that another nation, highly favored of God, could also be destroyed and removed from such privilege. But Mormon is not speaking from a place of hypothetical probability, but with revealed foreknowledge of that which shall come.

From This Time Forth

Mormon 4 (en español)

The first thought that is impressed upon me as I read about this state of blood, warfare, and degeneration, is that these are the conditions under which Mormon acts as editor of the Book of Mormon. It is fresh upon his mind what he is trying to avoid in compiling a record to the benefit of future generations.

When hatred is brought against hatred as the compelling force or motivation for doing something, it is only met with resistance and more hatred. It accomplishes no good thing, and the destructive outcomes are lamentable, at best.

I do not wish to dwell upon this chapter any more, and so I am choosing to move on. I think the prophet Mormon would feel the same.

Repent and Prepare to Stand Before the Judgment-seat of Christ

Mormon 3 (en español)

Mormón niega ser caudillo de los Nefitas. Las razones por lo cual él llega a esta decisión son los siguientes:

  • Muchas veces él había dirigido hacia la batalla
  • los había amado con todo su corazón, de acuerdo con el amor de Dios que había en él.
  • –y todo el día se había derramado mi alma en oración a Dios a favor de ellos;–
  • a pesar de estos esfuerzos, Mormón concluye que ha sido sin fe, por causa de la dureza de sus corozones.
  • Últimamente, es cuando Mormón escucha la voz del Señor que dijo: –Mía es la venganza, y yo pagaré; y porque este pueblo no se arrepintió después que lo hube librado, he aquí, será destruido de sobre la faz de la tierra.–

( vease vs. 12-15 )

Los Nefitas estaban viviendo como si no hubiera hecho una expiación a favor de ellos. Y ahora dice el Señor que venganza es suya. Mormón estaría luchando contra Dios si continuaba como caudillo de los ejércitos de los Nefitas.

In verses 2 & 3, we read that the Lord afforded Mormon a brief period of missionary work where he was instructed to cry repentance unto the people. His teaching was in vain, for said he:

…they did not realize that it was the Lord that had spared them, and granted unto them a chance for repentance.

Verse 3 (emphasis added)

Consider the timeline of events in this chapter and how it was at first the Nephites assumed that they had won of their own strengthen and then took false confidence in their own abilities to destroy the Lamanites. Mormon cried repentance unto them, they rejected this, and yet they still won the battle subsequently. But it was for the last time. The Lord does delay his promises, but they are sure.

The second half of this chapter shifts gears away from current events in Mormon’s day, to discuss his role as “an idle witness.” (see verse 16) In his capacity as a witness for Christ, he is heavily reliant upon impression of the Spirit to discern future events and circumstances and even audience. All this that the future reader, me, would “repent and prepare to stand before the judgment-seat of Christ.”(vs. 22)

There is some significant instruction here about the final judgment and the need to prepare for that judgment. Here we learn what was revealed to Mormon about this final judgment, some of its logistics. Curious it is that the power of judgement is delegated to the disciple of Christ, both the twelve from Jerusalem and also the twelve from the Americas.

Something that I am also sitting with is the nature of and the characteristics of that final judgment. From what I’m reading both in Mormon and in the referenced footnotes (see Matthew 19:28 or Doctrine and Covenants 29:12, for example), this isn’t a condemnation sentencing sort of.

There is one final note that I feel to make on this chapter. The workings of the Spirit that compelled Mormon to write about the final judgment also brought him to witness that Jesus was the very Christ, or in other words, the true Christ and the true God. (This is how it is translated into Spanish.) His hope was that the reader would be brought to believe the gospel of Jesus Christ, thus being prepared to stand before that judgment bar, ready and worthy to enter into a far greater weight of glory.

(There is more here, connecting verse 17 to 2 Nephi 30, and learning more about judgment, etc. To be continued… )

The Judgment-seat of Christ

What this IS and what this is perceived to be are two completely different things. There is a final judgment. It is well-known fact in Christian theology that at the end of times there will be a final judgement. The nature of this judgment and the knee-jerk response to being brought before a judge, which is unfortunately a by-product, or a result of our current criminal justice system, reinforces erroneous thoughts and understanding concerning the true nature of judgments and justice. Christ’s judgment is not one of condemnation, scorn, punishment, nor shame.

1 Samuel 2:1-10 is a prayer that Hannah (the mother of the Old Testament prophet Samuel) offers. This resonates very similar in spirit to the words of Mary in the house of her cousin, Elizabeth. “My soul doth magnify the Lord…” (See Luke 1:46-55) Both detail the judgments of the Lord.

Jesus Christ – Judge

Come Unto Jesus with Broken Hearts and Contrite Spirits

Mormon 2 (en español)

La primara cosa que me da pausa para reflexionar es la razón por lo cual Mormón quedó con el pueblo Nefita aun cuando ellos ya no eran un pueblo justo. Encuentro la respuesta en el versículo 12. Al ver el sufrimiento, los lamentos y quejidos del pueblo, Mormón empieza a tener esperanza de que tal vez se tornaran a un pueblo justo. Jamas pudiera haber tenido tal esperanza si no moraba con ellos. Uno no se puede sentir amor y compasión por un pueblo si no lucha con ellos.

By verse 15, 144 years had passed since the first people separated themselves from their brethren through pride in the way or manner in which they dressed. Now bodies are being heaped as dung piles upon the earth, so great was the wickedness and destruction of the same people. Oh how a memory of their fathers would have proven for a different outcome! Perhaps it is this perspective, of who they all once were, that kept Mormon fighting for a people who were beyond hope.

In verse 14, Mormon observes that the people “did not come unto Jesus with broken hearts and contrite spirits.” This is why, though the people where mourning and lamenting, there was no change in their condition. They failed to find Christ.

The footnote on “heart” causes me to consider the power that comes through humility and contrition before the Lord.

Why does such a chapter like this exist as a witness for Christ? There are a couple of key passages here and the bulk of the chapter sustains and is illustrative of the principles at play.

Mormon is very interested in his people coming to a state of contrition, where their hearts are broken or humbled before the Lord. There are a couple of moments that Mormon accounts for where the people are mourning and lamenting for their iniquities. In those moments, Mormon is hopeful that this will bring them to a state of such humility that the people would repent. He hopes they will come unto Christ, which is the only means by which any real redemption would be realized.

This exchange here is thus very helpful in seeing that one can experience sorrow and great suffering, mourning and lamentation, but still not come unto Christ.

(A similar observation about the Spirit is made later in the chapter, see verse 26.)

This morning though I am brought to consider one very important point back in verse 13, which I was discussing yesterday. Mormon says that “their sorrowing was not unto repentance, because of the goodness of God;”

Because of the goodness of God? Is this what drives people to repentance? It’s not shaming, it’s not condemnation; it’s not calling someone out for their misdeeds and poor conduct. Repentance comes best upon a recognition of God’s goodness and His abundant blessings in our lives.

Mormon, later in the chapter, incites his army to victory by inspiring his people to remember their wives, children, and homes, the good things in their lives. This strategy of focusing on goodness was a powerful motivating force that led this otherwise godless people on to victory against their enemies.

An interesting aside, I mentioned in the study of the last chapter that Ammaron had commanded Mormon to retrieve the record when he was 24 years old. I hadn’t thought to put two and two together, but Mormon wasn’t able to access the records until he was 35 years old, 11 years later.

Mormon doesn’t account for it this way though. We have dates. Ammaron comes to Mormon in the 320th year, about the same time that he hid the records (see 4 Nephi 1:48). Mormon is 10 years old. Then back here in Mormon 2:16 & 17, Mormon gives us the year, its the 345th year! So Mormon is now 35 years old. This is eleven years after he was commanded to go make the record.

This is important to me on so many levels when it comes to understanding the Lord’s timing, promises not yet realized, obligations not yet fulfilled, hopes and dreams not yet materialized. Wow and wow! Did Mormon ever think that he was not doing what the Lord had commanded him to do? Did he worry that he may never live to realize Ammaron’s directive, especially after so many years?

“…Because the Lord Had Cursed the Land”

Mormon 1 (en español)

Ammaron finds Mormon as a 10 year old youth, and give him a singular charge to make a history of this people at the age of 24. Are these arbitrary years? Was there something about the timeline of the people that was important for Mormon to record 14 years into the future. Or did it have something more to do with Mormon’s own personal development and Ammaron’s perceptions of human development. Joseph Smith after 10 years of preparation, organized the Church when he was 24 years old. The age of 24 is pointed to by childhood development psychologists as the end of adolescence and the beginning of adulthood. Was Ammaron aware of the subtle shifts of reasoning and ability that take place around this age? Possibly.

War prevails upon the land followed by a period of peace, but the real loss happens when the Lord takes decisive action to remove his disciples and his spiritual gifts from the people. Did the people even realize that this had happened? No, it was of no importance to them. Their priorities were elsewhere. It was sin and disbelief that brought about the withdrawal of the gifts of the Lord.

Mormon, at the age of 15, comes to know the Lord and to taste of and understand the kindness (or goodness) of Jesus. This event happens when general wickedness prevails and the default tendency is for sin and disbelief. Mormon wants to share his discovery with those around him, but he cannot because of wilful rebellion.

How Blessed Were They!

4 Nephi 1

This is the “Zion” chapter in the Book of Mormon; the only glimpse we get into what it would be like to belong to a celestial society and what it takes for us to achieve such peace. After the complete conversion of all the remaining Nephites and Lamanites, so that all were organized into a Church after their repentance and baptism, they became a people who were equal. This equality came on two fronts. There were no more rich or poor, there was no more bond or free. They were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift.

There is a side conversation that has resulted from my study of these verses and helps me to orient in my mind the proper role of government among us. Government does not exist to bring us to a Zion state. Government cannot do that. But it can allow us basic freedoms and a framework in which to allow us to be free as far as is possible. So government has a role to preserve freedom, not to compel equality. Equality must be chosen and must come from within oneself. Perhaps with this perspective, I might more willingly engage in civil activities of government.

Government cannot dictate the conscience of man, it can only ensure that man is free to act and answer to the voice of his own conscience, but never compel a man to so do. Only when man, of his own free will, chooses to act kindly towards another will true equality exist within the world.

After Christ’s appearance and ministry, it took two years for the complete conversion of all the people, from the 34th year to the 36th year.

Verse 5 talks about the miracles that the disciples of Christ were able to perform. The list is not unlike recorded miracles that we find Jesus himself performing in the New Testament. I read this and think to myself that this is evidence of this great conversion to Christ that took place among the people. It is faith in Christ that brings to pass miracles, and such was the people’s faith in Him on every hand that “all manner of miracles” were able to be performed by the disciples.

By verse 7, we are now two decades in to the Zion experiment. Faith continues strong among the people and so curiously, our author points out that the Lord had prospered them exceedingly in the land. Consequently, the people have rebuilt cities that had been destroyed at the time of the Lord’s coming.

Verses 10 and 11 deal with the manner of their family life in this dynamic situation. (I have more to say about this, given the recent changes in my own family dynamics.)

One of the proofs of the society’s well being that is offered here is that they were married and given in marriage. Having experienced a transformation in my own marriage, and this through the my increased earnestness in prayer as a disciple of the Christ, and working directly on my marriage with my wife, I can see how this could be a blessing of the highest magnitude.

There is no mention of or reference to temple ordinances or blessings here, but after referencing marriage, it does state: “and [they] were blessed according to the multitude of the promises which the Lord had made unto them.” Does not the same thing happen in the temple?

Verse 12 holds keys to their prosperity:

  • They obeyed the commandments.
  • Continued in prayer and fasting
  • And they gathered often to hear the word of God.

And then in verse 13, we read that the dream of every noble heart had finally been realized: “there was no contention among all the people, in all the land”. There is no other way to achieve peace. This is the pattern which must be followed. And of a truth, it seems that only Christ is able to effectively realize such a goal on a global scale.

The use of the word “generation” in verse 15 is different than how we use it modern terms. My understanding of the term “generation” has to do with the duration of time between parent and child: 30 years on average. “Generation” as it is used in the Book of Mormon seems to suggest the life span of a human being, being somewhere between 70 to 100 years. And we have this available to us because of the dual reckoning of time both by years and generations. So one (1) generation in Book of Mormon terms is the equivalent of what I had traditionally thought to be three (3) generations.

There are prophecies from Nephi early into the Book of Mormon that talk about the time of Christ’s visitation and how afterwards three (3) generation should pass away in righteousness, and also many of the fourth generation. (See 1 Nephi 12:12 & 2 Nephi 26:9–10, and also 3 Nephi 27:30–32 )

Continuing to piece together this time table of generations. Verse 18 confirms that by the 110th year all the first generation had passed away. Or this would be approximately 76 years from Christ’s visitation in the Americas, so not exactly 100 years, but more the average life span of a human. Then in verse 22, all but a few of the second generation has passed away by the 200th year. This is 90 years from when the end of the first generation was indicated.

Interesting to note, is that by the end of 200 years, a small faction has broken off into Lamanites again. The prophecies state that is the 4th generation from Christ that would be destroyed.

In verse 23, Mormon breaks into the narrative to point out ( and I find it important to understand these points that Mormon feels to interject into the narrative) that the people had spread out across the land and had become rich, through their prosperity in Christ. Then immediately after making this observation, Mormon notes how pride began to seed itself among the people, and division and class resulted.

Is there no other direction for a people to go other than towards pride and self destruction, when the people wax strong and rich in the prosperity of Christ? Why then would Christ want to bless us with prosperity, if it leads to destruction? Is there something more that we should be doing with prosperity?

In the situation of the Nephites, they had all things in common. They were living the law of consecration. If Christ desires that we living in prosperous circumstances, what is its purpose? This cannot be the end goal? Is it just to give to the poor? The Nephites had no poor among them.

Within the space of just 100 years, we go from a history of a people who are undivided in their faith in Christ, to a people who (through a series of progressive steps) are all esteemed as wicked, focused on their riches and the pursuit of more riches. Such a society naturally has robbers because that’s all anyone is at that point: a robber – someone who unjustly takes from another to get gain.

One of the more interesting facets of the Gospel of Christ is the very real inability of one to judge their own performance and progress based on the fruit or outcomes of others, even immediate family members. This is one of the thoughts that I have as I re-read and contemplate this shift away from righteousness among the Nephites.

The righteousness of the leadership of the church was likely no less powerful during the Nephites’ decline than during their periods of righteousness. We read that the three Nephites still had power over beast and element. At one point, the members of the Church were mocked for their humility and belief in Christ. It became unpopular to believe. Societal shifts are powerful influencers.

One of the first steps away form Christ and God was to setup a new form of religion, a new church that was focused on getting gain. (See verse 26) As I read this, I think that church here becomes representative of any organization, focused on getting gain.

These “churches” were growing because of iniquity. False churches were able to administer things to the unworthy that was not allowed them in the true church of Christ. (See verse 27) Thus in their iniquity, these churches became popular. Therefore, growth is not always the best indicator of progress.

In verse 29, we learn that despite persecution, among the true disciples of Christ there was humility, faith, and miracles. The power of God remained with the church. Those disciples who did tarry were still working mighty miracles in the name of Jesus. And yet, multiple times the people tried to kill them. And multiple times they did harden their hearts against the truth. (See verses 31, 34)

This strikes me as an important distinction and reminder: that even in the presence of strong faith, people can and do reject the truth.

An important commentary on labeling or classifying people is offered here (see verses 35-39). A very subtle nuance is offered in verse 36. These labels originate from Lamanites, or those that had rejected the gospel of Christ. Not only did labels come from those that didn’t have faith in Christ, but they also tried to compartmentalize and label those that did have faith in Christ, separating the true believers into different groups. “and among [the true believers in Christ] there were those who were called by the Lamanites—Jacobites, and Josephites, and Zoramites;”

This is so important to understand where the labels are coming from. Christ does not divide people into groups or classes, and neither should we.

Now in the 300th year, all are esteemed as following wickedness. Trafficking of goods here seems to be pointed to as a sign of their wickedness. That is a sober thought, for such activities significantly describe the activities of our modern world. (There are other scriptures that point to trafficking as a sign of an industrious society. See Ether 10:22)

I’ve gone back to the beginning of the chapter, looking specifically for references to the Christ. It’s always bothered me how the authors of the Book of Mormon seem to glaze over the first 200 years as if nothing was worth noting. Today, however as I look for Christ in these verses, I can see that this chapter is a testament to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the reality that it actually does work. There is nothing to report, because the teaching and everything that constitutes their faith in Jesus Christ has already been spelled out elsewhere. What we have here is the proof that the gospel of Jesus Christ really does make for an ideal and better society.

There are no contentions, no suffering for sin nor wickedness. “Where’s the fun in that?” one might say. Yet there is no impediments to their spiritual progress. The field is wide open to allow the real work of Christ: our disciplined, becoming like the Father through Christ and His atonement. This is where real growth happens.

Not the very first, but one of the first actions in denying the Christ was building up churches for gain, which subsequently led them to step away from His true church. Verse 27, again, talks about churches administering that which was sacred those whom it had been forbidden because of unworthiness. Why is this important? It not because the church needs to be protected from defilement, as if it were a delicate flower easily spoiled. It seems to me that this has more to do with the spiritual progress of the individual or the group. When all manner of wickedness get received into the church, then the individuals cease to progress.

Two final thoughts as I am seeking to find Christ at the end of this chapter/book. First, we go from having a Church of Christ, to a people of Jesus, to just a few disciples of Jesus. The author makes a set of interesting observations. Secondly, the people now have robbers in the land and are storing up gold and silver. Then in the final verse we learn that Ammaron feels constrained to hide up the record unto the Lord. I wonder if there is not a correlation here in that he longer felt it safe to have possession of the records, owing to the wickedness of the people, and the chance for theft that now existed among the people. The one surety that Ammaron has is that he can turn to the Lord and seek to protect the record after this manner.