Keeping Our Covenants

For teachings for our times this week, our ward is studying Elder Maynes' talk Keeping Our Covenants. Since we've had problems in the past with instructors not showing up, I've started preparing a lesson each week 'just in case' -- the worst case is that I've studied the lesson more deeply than I would have otherwise. I'm not entirely sure of where to take this weeks lesson, so I thought I'd share some of my ideas, and see what feedback I could glean.

1) (an implicit theme for the lesson) We need to do more than just attend conference and/or browse through the conference report. We need to internalize the messages, write them on the fleshy tables of our hearts.

2) (a minor theme) We can learn more by likening the scriptures unto ourselves. As we move through the lesson, I'd like to focus on the example of the Ammonites (Alma 53:9,12,155,16-18,20-22; 56:45,47; 57:21,25-26) and draw parallels between the perilous times that the Nephites were experiencing and those we face as a community, a country and as families.

3) (the main theme) By making and keeping covenants, we can become the Captain Moronis and Helamens needed to guide and protect our community, country and families. I thought it was very interesting that Elder Mayne's first example was not of temple or baptismal covenant, but of contrasting, additional covenants made by the Ammonite fathers and their sons. What role should these additional covenants play in our lives?

Beyond the scriptures from Alma (above), I'd like to include:
Joshua 14:15
James 1:22
Mosiah 5:5-8
D & C 42:29

And to tie things up, I'd like to go back to the idea that we can stand as Captain Moroni and Helamen with Alma 48:7-20


Wortschatz -- To Sing Redeeming Love

Another term (well, phrase) that caught my attention is to sing redeeming love. While the concepts of redemption and love suffuse the scriptures, they are not often brought together. In fact, Alma the Younger and Ammon are the only to speakers to conjoin the terms -- and both of them refer to singing redeeming love.

Love and Redemption are used together in Deut. 7:8 and Isa. 63:9. In both cases, love is given as the reason for the Lord's redemption of His people.

The terms are used together in 2 Ne 1:15. In this case Lehi recognizes of God's love after he testifies of His redemptive power.

Alma the Younger speaks of singing redeeming love in Alma 5:9 and Alma 5:26. In the first instance, he's talking about the fathers of his audience (by context, it seems like he's talking about the people Alma the Elder led in the wilderness). After they've been saved from the bands of death and the chains of hell (physical death and sin) by the Lord's hand, they sing redeeming love. He goes on to ask his audience if they've experienced this change in their own lives, if they have felt to sing the song of redeeming love.

Ammon uses the term in Alma 26:12, applying it to the Lamanites who have experienced conversion through the preaching of the gospel.

The terms are also used together in D & C 133:53 (which quotes Isaiah 63:9).

Alma the Younger and Ammon use the term so similarly that it seems formulaic. But there's no prior use (that I can find). Perhaps (warning -- speculation alert), it was used by Alma the Elder and/or Abinadi but edited out of Mormon's text.


Nice post on the New Cool Thang

Geoff posted a nice piece on The parable of the sower. While I'd written about this previously, he took it in a different direction comparing the three failing kinds of seeds to three classifications of sin: Greed, Popularity, and Appetites. Having read his post, I think that Lehi's vision and the parable of the sower parallel Satan's temptation of the Savior in Matt. 4:3-10 to some degree.

In verse 3, the Savior is asked to turn stones into bread -- appealing to His physical appetite. Compare to Matt 13:4,9 or 1 Ne 8:31

In verse 7, the savior is asked to leap from a building so that the angels might bear him up -- appealing to His desire for popularity (His vanity). Compare to Matt13:5-6,20-21 or 1 Ne 8:23

In verses 8 and 9, the savior is asked to worship Satan in return for worldly wealth -- appealing to his greed. Compare to Matt 13:7,22 or 1 Ne 8:26-28

I think that the first and third parallels are fairly clear. The second is a stretch for Lehi's vision to match up to, although the angel explained to Nephi that ". . .the mists of darkness are the temptations of the devil, which blindeth the eyes, and hardeneth the hearts of the children of men, and leadeth them away into broad roads, that they perish and are lost" (not a bad description of vanity and its fruits), so maybe it's not too far off.

(I've tried to follow Geoff's Greed-Popularity-Appetites-Appetites-Popularity-Greed chiasm ...)


A post card from copyright land

Late last week, I discovered that a large publisher was using some materials I wrote and published under the OPL on their website. Not a big deal except that 1) they didn't reference the OPL at all, and 2) they posted it with their own copyright notice.

After I got over my initial indignation, I realized that this was probably an act of negligence, not one of malice. I was able to contact some people in their online division, and after asking them to fix the issue it looks like everything will be resolved this week.

Yeah for friendly discussion!

wortschatz - tribulation

Alma the Younger only used the word tribulation a few times, but he used it to great poetic effect.

'Tribulation' is first used in the Book of Mormon by Lehi, as he blesses Jacob in 2 Ne 2:1 and then by Jacob himself in Jacob 7:26. Lehi and Jacob use the term to describe the (mainly) physical struggles of their exodus.

It's then left unused until Alma the Elder uses it in a short sermon to his people in the land Helam (Mosiah 23:10). Alma the Younger uses it twice during his penitential speech in Mosiah 27:28,32. In Alma 8:14 it's used to describe Alma's state of mind (this could be Mormon's voice or he could be quoting Alma, it's hard to tell). Alma the Elder and Alma the Younger both use the term in a different sense than Lehi and Jacob -- that of an inner, mental struggle against sin and wickedness. In the case of Alma 8:14, the sorrow of seeing those for whom you have stewardship enmeshed in the snare of sin.

It's used again in Alma 15:3 and Alma 15:18 to describe Zeezrom. Again, it's difficult to tell whether this is Mormon's voice or Alma's. This usage follows the convention of using tribulation to describe the inner struggle against wickedness that accompanies repentance.

The Ammonites see the Nephites suffering 'many afflictions and tribulations' on their behalf (Alma 53:13), this may be Mormon writing on his own, or he may be quoting Helamen (the son of Alma the Younger). Helaman uses the term twice in a letter to Captain Moroni 56:2 and 7 (the second use is obviously connected to Alma 53:12). All of these verses use tribulation more in the sense of a physical struggle than the struggle of repentance.

Captain Moroni uses the word in his epistle to Pahoran (Alma 60:26). His use shares the same connotation that Helaman's and the use in Alma 53:12.

Wortschatz (a word treasure) -- passed from father to son

I spend a lot of time reading Alma the Younger's words from the Book of Mormon (hopefully not too much). Recently, I've been struck by some of the words he uses. I'm hoping to write a couple of short posts about what I've found. In particular, I'm enjoying the flow of language and words from father to son.