Saturday, February 16, 2008

I See… Stuck in Alma

Sincere, systematic Book of Mormon reading efforts face several challenges. The most popular pitfall is how too familiar too many of us are with First Nephi. The next imaginary hurdle is the seemingly complex but truly simple Isaiah chapters in Second Nephi. For our family, the time-honored traditional trap that catches us is being “stuck in Alma.”

Our family spends a lot of time, probably too much time, being stuck in the book of Alma. What comforts us is that this is not that hard to do: at roughly 160 pages of action-packed preaching, it accounts for a little over 30% of another Testament of Jesus Christ.

What depresses us however, is that the 63 chapters of Alma seem to go on forever. We like to see some signs of progress in our evening family scripture reading attempts, but that’s hard to do when it feels like you are always opening up to another chapter in Alma.

How stuck are we? When Brian would have a friend over for a weekend of video games and junk food in the basement theater, he would join us for our family scripture reading on more than one occasion and consistently humorously predict that we were somewhere in Alma; sadly, he’d be right. When Deon and I can’t remember where we stopped reading the night before, Leslie, blessed with the gift of remarkable recall, jokingly replies “somewhere in Alma!” What’s disappointing is that she is usually right. Brian left for a semester of school at BYU-Idaho, and when he returned for Christmas vacation, we were still reading in the same book- the Book of Alma.

Then I start thinking about what we are actually stuck in:
- Alma asking us and the Gideonites “have ye been born of God?” (Alma 5);
- Alma and Amulek bring down the jail house in Ammonihah: : How long shall we suffer these great afflictions, O Lord? O Lord, give us strength according to our faith which is in Christ, even unto deliverance.” (Alma 14-25-27);
- The great missionary Ammon presents Lamanite King Lamoni with a bag of the arms of thieves trying to steal his flocks, which convinces the king that Ammon bears a message worth listening to (Alma 17-18);
- Lamanites wedded to a centuries-old tradition of hating and terrorizing Nephites become converted. Can you imagine today’s terrorists raised in an America-hating culture embracing the principles of freedom? (Alma 26);
divinity and power, and gets it; unfortunately, it is in th - Korihor, the rabid anti-Christ, tempts God for a sign of His form of being struck dumb (Alma 30);

- The “dueling prayers” in Alma 31 of rich, proud Zoramites offered on their Rameumptoms vs. the humble, grateful pleas of Alma offered on behalf of the poor in their fields and their closets;
- Faith as a seed (Alma 32);
- The instruction manual on resurrection and what comes after (Alma 40-42);
- Superhero Captain Moroni defends freedom and prepares the people to conquer evil via the Title of Liberty (Alma 43-50);
- That patriotic hothead Teancum slays wicked Amalickiah in his tent, in his sleep, and slips away unnoticed (Alma 51);
- Teenage Stripling Warriors imbued with courage from their mothers slay evil twice their size (Alma 53-58);
- Nephite leader Pahoran eloquently forgives the passionate Captain Moroni for falsely accusing him to be “a traitor to his country (Alma 60-61).

Wow! Could it be that we spend a lot of time in Alma because it contains so much that moves and inspires us closer to God? I can’t wait to be stuck in Alma again!

2 comments:

  1. I totally agree with you. In my most recent reading of the BofM it was Alma where I found myself so immersed in the stories and teaching. There is a lot of great stuff in there.

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  2. Erin, I'm glad you do. In fact, it was the "war chapters" in Alma that inspired at BYU to adopt the path of a poor federal govt. worker "in defense of liberty"

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