This article is posted on ldsliberty.org.
In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Lehi counseled his son Jacob that “men are that they might have joy” (2 Ne 2:25). In other words, men exist that they may have joy. Some 300 years later and around the globe in Greece, Aristotle would later argue that the most basic motivation for human action is eudaimonia (commonly translated as “happiness” or “human flourishing”). For Aristotle, as also it seems with the prophet Lehi, eudaimonia constituted a human being’s final cause (one of four “causes” that defines what a thing is as opposed to another thing: the purpose for an object’s existence). This means that
This article is posted on ldsliberty.org.
As I studied and took the class necessary to become a full-time Seminary instructor for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints last year (a full-time religious education teaching position for high school aged students), we were instructed, among many things, on how to approach the scriptural text. When approaching and teaching the text, there were four levels of analysis/understanding that were presented
Wheat, the staff of life, has been used by nearly every major civilization since the dawn of time, or at least the last 9000 years. This isn’t necessarily a good indicator that something is good for you, but it certainly does show that we’ve evolved to live with and consume wheat—and other grains, for that matter. However, recently we have seen a whole slew of negative press about wheat.
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
The Guardian, published Osama Bin Laden’s “Open Letter to America” that expressed bin Laden’s reason and purpose for the September 2001 attacks on the New York City Trade Center towers. No one read it. Why? There were several justifications for avoiding it, but the general argument boiled down to something like this: “Why should I believe the words of a mass-murderer who hates America?”
Interestingly enough, bin Laden’s words read like something out of St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica, and, had the letter not been directed against America, Americans might have accepted it as a masterful treatise of divinely inspired natural law, natural rights, and natural justice. However, Americans didn’t care. They still don’t care. All that really matters to Americans is that Osama is dead, and that such “justified retaliation” proves American greatness.
The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) may soon welcome openly homosexual youths and leaders into its organization (1)(2)(3). The news has shaken many people in the Scouting organization and also in the Latter-day Saint community. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is one of the BSA’s largest contributors, as each of the LDS Church wards in the United States sponsors its own BSA troop for its Young Men organization.
The recent news of the BSA’s possible admittance of openly homosexual youths and leaders has caused some questioning concerning the LDS Church’s possible stance on the BSA. Will the Church pull away from the BSA? Will it continue its relationship? Will it amend its relationship with the BSA?
In my previous ward I was called to teach the Valiant Boys in Primary (9-12 year olds). During my short time teaching them (almost a year), we studied and discussed topics in the Book of Mormon. We spent far more time on Lehi’s exodus from Jerusalem than what the lesson manual allotted, but I was consistently impressed at the enriching conversation that we were having with that young group of boys on the subject. So long as there was interest, we continued to talk about it.
On one Sunday I asked the boys whether they would follow their fathers into the wilderness. They were curiously surprised at the questions that I followed up with.
“To believe in something, and not to live it, is dishonest” (Mahatma Gandhi).
“Honesty is the first chapter of the book wisdom” (Thomas Jefferson).
“But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to ever man’s conscience in the sight of God” (2 Cor 4:2).
As I walked into Walmart today I pushed the lock-button on my key-fob. As my car beeped, telling me that it was now locked and secure, I suddenly realized that my unconscious and habitual action was in response to a presupposed negative assumption and possibility that someone might steal from me while I was in the store. Without even thinking, I assumed dishonesty.
I have spent many, many hours contemplating the state of a just and honorable society, but it wasn’t until my subconscious distrust became a conscious reality that I realized how much a dishonest society really affects my daily choices.
I do not know how many times that I have read 1st Nephi chapter 1 in the Book of Mormon, let alone how many times I have read the first verse in that chapter. Yet, even now, I find what I see is an amazing insight in that first verse as I re-read it.
My purpose for reading the Book of Mormon this time through is to find aspects of deliverance in how the Lord deals with leading his people to liberty and freedom. Under this purpose, I noticed something new in the first verse of 1 Nephi.
Throughout Christian scripture are the consistently repeated themes of redemption, liberation, and reclamation. It is of interesting note that there is no real case of God’s children achieving these things through revolution on their own terms and philosophy but, rather, through divine deliverance as they learn how to turn to the Lord will full purpose of heart, put their trust in him, and serve him with all diligence of mind (Mosiah 7:33).
This constitutes a new project for me. As I begin to re-read the Book of Mormon I will write about passages of scripture that stand out and inspire me to in learning more how the tender mercies of the Lord apply to the Christ’s power of deliverance (1 Ne 1:20). I will log each article here, as I write them.