Friday, July 11, 2008

more reading

I teach the adult Sunday school at church and this year we study the Book of Mormon. It has been wonderful to study it again. I read it from cover to cover two years ago, but it was just reading. I didn't take time to ponder much.

Do you want to know what one of my fondest wishes is? I would love to discuss the Book of Mormon with a group of people who are not members of my church. Like a book club-style discussion. I would just like to know what they think of it. People of our faith are notorious for trying to convert people, but I'm not that way. I mean, I think it's wonderful when people join the Church, but that is not part of this dearest wish. I long to see the Book of Mormon through fresh eyes, through the eyes of people who have not had years of LDS Sunday school.

Mark Twain famously called it "chloroform in print." It seems that he did read the entire book, so I'm surprised that he would think that. The chapters I'm studying now, the missionary travels of Alma the Younger and the sons of Mosiah, are very exciting. One of my favorite chapters is Alma 36, where Alma the Younger tells the story of his conversion to his son Helaman. This is one of the most beautiful examples in the Book of Mormon of chiastic structure. Chiasmus is an ancient Hebrew poetic form of parallelism. Chiasmus is very common in the book of Isaiah. It is also common in the Book of Mormon. Interestingly, this form was not "discovered" and written about by scholars until the mid-nineteenth century. Some people believe that Joseph Smith, a New York farm boy, wrote the Book of Mormon himself. This is pretty convincing evidence that he did not. Let's imagine for a minute that he did get hold of an obscure scholarly article about Hebrew literary forms before 1830. And then he managed to come up with some on his own. It would be genius, but genius is possible. Wouldn't early converts have pointed to the chiastic structures as evidence of the Book of Mormon's authenticity? Chiastic structures were not "discovered" in the Book of Mormon until the late 1960's. Read more about it here.


Anonymous said...

Wow Calandria we must be on the same wave length, I was just thinking the same thing this morning. In fact I was thinking about posting my feelings on that tommorrow when I can have adequate time to put my thoughts together.

Mama Ava said...

I would love to join your book discussion! I would love to learn more without feeling pressured to change my faith choices.

When I was in TJ Maxx the other week I saw these 2 young men looking at ties together (which struck me as odd). They were discussing whether this tie or that one was too flashy. When I finally looked up and saw their name tags, I understood. I said that if I had to wear a white shirt and black pants every day for a year, I'd for as colorful as I was allowed to have!