Monday, October 13, 2008

Interesting Stuff in Alma

I'm on my second time through the Book of Mormon this year. I'm not keeping up with Sunday School, which I feel guilty about, so here's for repenting soon. In the mean time, I noticed a couple of interesting things from Alma's experience in Ammonihah.

One is the fact that Alma and Amulek were "convicted"-- or, at least condemned-- for testifying of Christ, which I find to be really interesting. Abinadi, Jesus Himself, Lehi, Joseph Smith, and some other people I thought of before but have forgotten now, were also condemned for this exact thing. My question is: why care at all, let alone that much? If you don't believe in God, what's the point in condemning someone else who is just talking about Him coming? I know that this isn't a new idea, but it really struck me this time: Weird. Interesting.

The other thing that I noticed is that these people (back to Ammonihah) took the "perpetrators," and then murdered those who believed them, in front of them. This also defies any logic except for the most hellish kind. When you get to the point of a) killing people just because they believe something, and b) killing not even your main targets, because you are trying to get to your main targets psychologically by killing others, then you are literally evil beyond description.

One last, somewhat more cheerful thought, brought up by Elder William Oswald's conference talk on teaching, in which he referred to Moroni as a teacher: how much leeway do angels get? I mean, you have this assignment: go tell Alma to repent; go tell Alma that he's doing well, but he needs to go back to Ammonihah; go tell Joseph Smith that he needs to go find some gold plates that you buried nearly two thousand years ago, and give him extra instructions besides about how to get the kingdom off the ground (er, you know); and so on. You have thus-and-such audio-visual equipment available. Remember the cultural context of the person you are talking to. You must cover these points.

When I was younger, I used to assume that God always told angels what to say, word-for-word, and I have very little doubt that this is sometimes, perhaps even most of the time, the case. But if He would trust Nephi (Helaman's son, in Helaman 10) to not do anything He wouldn't do, isn't there a possibility that Moroni got a less than word-for-word assignment on what to say to Joseph Smith? An on the other hand, Joseph said that he DID repeat his message word-for-word, which would tend to lend weight to the idea that each word was deliberately chosen for itself. And on the other hand, if you have a thousand years to prepare for an assignment (including time and resources to watch a language develop), you might just whittle it down to the exact words you want, no more and no less. It gets you wondering (or daydreaming) about ideal teaching situations, you know?

Yes, I have enough hands to do that many "other hand"s. Go watch Fiddler on the Roof.

I just noticed that I said "When I was younger" rather than "before I heard this talk," which tells me that at some level, I think I have been moving away from the rote-talking idea for a while. Maybe Touched by an Angel had some unrecognized effect on me. Maybe my lifelong longing to be an angel has had an effect on me (I always wanted to be an angel when my primary class acted out scripture stories, and to this day remember the Sunday when said longing was fulfilled). Surely it has, but this is leaking into being another topic for another posting, so I will promise (as I notice I often do, falseley) that I will write more later.

1 comment:

ke said...

a) Angels fascinate me terribly.
b) As far as exact words go: I love the image of Moroni sitting at some desk somewhere drafting his message. (This adds credence to my views on preparing well for talks, etc.) But there's more here, too: something about translating to/from the inexpressable, from the language the spirit teaches through(do you think the Holy Ghost was there whispering complimentary messages, or would that be overkill?)

I'm fascinated by the insight, though.

(Thanks for the plums, they were lovely.) ke