“The way a book is read — which is to say, the qualities a reader brings to a book — can have as much to do with its worth as anything the author puts into it…. Anyone who can read can learn how to read deeply and thus live more fully.”
~Norman Cousins

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I read from my scriptures (book), but you can find scripture reference here.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Covenants and Contentions ( A Play)

Helaman 1: 1-13

Time: 40th year of the reign of judges (52 B.C.)
Place: Land of the Promise (Zarahemla)
Setting: Pahoran, the chief judge for 40 years has just passed away (gone the way of the earth).
Pahoran's sons contends for the election of the judgment seat. A three way race for the seat causes there to be a three way division that leads the otherwise righteous Nephites to unrighteous anger.

Pahoran (the father) - A great statesman who served as the Nephite's third judge. He is the son of Nephihah and father of Pahoran Jr. who is elected after his death. During his term of service he lead a political rally for the Free-man Party against the King-men party. He wrote letters to Moroni defending his position and expounding on his difficulty with the political turmoil and disputations within the land. See Alma 50-59
Virginia (the wife and mother of Pahoran ( I named her)) - Although there is no mention of her in the scriptures the mention of her family makes place for her in the family. In my mind she carried a heavy load helping her husband balance the stress of a political revolt, only to watch her son Paanchi follow the rebellion and then loose faith in the strength of his covenants with God.
Charles (the judge who rules on the vote for the office of the judge) Another made up role that fits in with the description of the events.
Samuel - a fourth brother who helps comfort his mother at the time of her son Pahoran's death.

(Sons of deceased Pahoran): Pahoran Jr. , Paanchi, Pacumeni
Others: Kishkumen, Trial Judge, Kishkumen's band, Poll

Opening Scene: The Funeral For Pahoran

After 8 of Pahoran's sons have acted as his pallbearers and carried his body to the gravesite, they stand behind their mother. Each one stands quietly to listen to the eulogy and prayer given in behalf of their statesman father.

Virginia: Crying quietly. Samuel comes up behind her and places his hand on her shoulder. He stands very closer to her. His seven other brothers make their way to their mother's side and offer her words of comfort. One by one they leave her side and return to their families. All except Paanchi who steals away to a grove of trees not far from the graveside. There he is seen meeting with a tall dark and ominous man and several of his friends. Kishkumen puts his arm around Paanchi and walks away with him and a following that grows larger as they exit the cemetery.
Act 1 ( verse 1-3)
The pondering of her heart.. to herself.
I wonder what will become of my family? Will my sons make peace? Will they remember the honor that their father stood for? Will they remember all of the covenants that he made with his God? our God? the God we have taught them to remember? Will they remember their good name? My sons? Your father's dirt is yet thrown upon his grave and you begin to vie for his power? Oh Paanchi why must you leave my side? Will you listen to the voice of vanity and forget your mother's greif so soon? Will you allow your lust for power to overshadow your love for your family? Do not anger so quickly?

Pahoran Jr. - Mother it is time to leave now. We have much business to tend to. Father's seat must be filled. I will run for the office. As the eldest son, I have the right to be the next judge of this land. I will fill the seat with dignity and honor.

Pacumeni - Yes brother you are the eldest, but you have not the background of law that I have. You should leave legal matters to those who know the law of the land. I would be a better judge in that I can see what you can not.
Virginia - Your father's blood has barely been spilled and you speak of such matters. I am aware that the the time has come for a new judge. Please if you must compete do so with dignity, fairness and honor. Do not allow the media to sway your good judgment. Do not allow others to diminish the power of your covenants.

Samuel- Mother. Why do you speak so of our covenants?

Virginia- Because if you do not stand for what you profess to believe in, then you stand against it. If you do not make a conscious effort to bind yourself to the covenants of truth and honor that the Lord God will hold you to, how can you find strength to withstand those that will bind you to darker covenants?

Pahoran - Father spoke often of his covenants. He was a man of honor. He believed in the covenants to God, but also the allegiance to our country and fellowman.

Virginia - That is right. He often contended with Captain Moroni, but it was not because of his lack of belief that he was not able to support Moroni, it was because of those that he lead that refused to support their government with their actions.

Samuel - What do you mean mother?

Virginia - Any fool is able to speak, but only those that truly believe what they speak are able to act on their beliefs. Before you were born Samuel, there was a war where the Lamanites came into our land. Your father lead a valiant effort to support Captain Moroni but those that felt we needed a King refused to support him or Captain Moroni.

Pacumeni - Yes there was a great election. Father was elected in a very difficult race. There was much discussion. And even though he won, the angry King men ran him from the city.

Virginia - Yes .. this is what I mean son. Only those who truly love and understand the power that their covenants bring them will live their lives to honor and protect them. Your father stood for and fought hard to convince the people that by having a King, they would loose their rights and liberty.

Pahoran Jr. I often remember his speaking of the importance of keeping the power with the people. Once a people begin to forget the power and strength their covenants with God bring them, they begin to look to darker covenants. He said, "We all enter into covenants in our life. It is by our agency that we choose covenants that bind us, or covenants that free us. God's covenants free us from the lies that bind."

Samuel - Yes, He wanted us to believe in ourselves. He taught me to believe in myself and I would never have need to follow a crowd that would persuade me to disavow my faith.

Virginia - My heart is broken for the loss of your father. My heart is again broken for the loss of your brother Paanchi. His heart has forgotten the covenants. He has been led into contentious waters that have deafened his ears to reason.

Act II ( verse 3-5)

Election Day:
A three way split of the people into three parties of thought has caused much contention in Pahoran Seniors family and in the land.

Pahoran Jr. -
The polls are in my favor. I have the love of the people on my side. I will try my best to secure the liberty of the people. I am worried however for the safety of those who do not believe as the King-men. They are a contentious people and will do anything to get their way.

Pacumeni -
My following has been good, but it has been much as my brother has believed. There is a need for strong leadership. I fear that the King Men will rise again. I have done my best to win, but if I do not win, I will cast my vote for my older brother.

Paanchi -
I must win. I must have the office. I have sworn an oath that I will do whatever it takes to give the power to those who want a King. A King is what this people need to be lead to stronger and greater wealth. A king will bring us peace with the Lamanites. A king, like me, could be trusted. After all It is my right. It is my heritage to lead. It is my inheritance and it cannot be taken from me if the election fails me. I will work with Kishkumen and we will have our way. We have made secret oaths that will bring us all the power we will need.

The people are gathered around the courts of law. The Chief Pollster Charles will soon announce the winner of the election. After many words of encouragement to help heal the Nephite nation, Charles suggests that they accept the voice of the people and move forward in peace.

Charles -
It is with great pride that I will now announce the voice of the people in the matter of the election of our next Chief Judge of the Land of Nephi. Although there has been a great division of opinion, the majority of the vote belongs to Pahoran Jr.

Virginia - I fear for my son's life. I fear for the safety of our country. May God be with us all.
There is great anger in the voices of those who have not won. In those who have trade their covenants with God, for a darker vote.

Pacumeni - Mother. I have come to inform you that "I will unite with the voice of the people. I will honor the election and follow Pahoran, my brother, as the 4th Chief Justice of the Land.

Virginia - Where is your brother Paanchi? He is lost? Will he come home to the love that has nurtured him?

Act III(verse 7-8)
Scene: Paanchi meets with his followers and promises to overthrow the new Chief Judge (his brother). He promises that their votes for him will not be wasted and they they will have what they want. They are meeting outside the town limits in a grove of trees.

Paanchi -
Do not be afraid or lost. We will yet have what we have set out to obtain. A plan has been set in motion. Calm your fears. Soothe your anger. For tomorrow we will organize and lead a rebellion. With your talents. With your strength. I can still be governor. It does not matter that the election has taken place. These people are so stupid they do not know what they want. They cannot see what I can bring to their lives. We will organize on the morrow and you will have yet another new leader.

Police - Paanchi you are hear by arrested for the unlawful meeting with the intent to lead an insurgence in the land. You will stand trial. You will face your peers and it will be decided if you have sought to destroy the liberty of this people. If it is determined that you have done so, you will be hanged unto your death.

Kishkumen - Standing a far off. Kishkumen cannot bear to see Paanchi not only loose but be hanged for his efforts to lead as he wants to.
It is not right! It is not fair! We were guaranteed a win. Flattery always wins! Flattery always helps people see who is best! If Paanchi had won, then I would have had my post and even I would have been able to manipulate him into what I wanted for this land and this people. I will implement my plan (our plan of our dark covenant ) into action.


I chose to do this post a bit different. I believe that many times when it is read so many of the little things are lost. I believe that if you stop and ponder you could imagine many different scenarios taking place. But undoubtedly this story is a story of a family in turmoil. A turmoil brought on by the forgetting of covenants to God and the adherence of covenants to man.

Contention- it comes when? when we are angry. When we don't get our way. When we are tired. When we are hungry. When our needs have not been met.

Covenants - A covenant is a two way agreement between two parties. One party agrees to fulfill a task, a promise, if the second party fulfills their promise. If one promise is broken then the covenant is void. Covenants can be good and bad.

God's covenants- He promises to love us, to protect us, to strengthen us, to teach us, to guide us, to give us liberty and freedom to choose. if What? if we will remember His commandments, draw near to him, and love others, even when we don't get what we want. When we don't get what we want, we can to go God our Father and he will fill our needs. We may not get what we want, but we will have our needs met. "If ye do not what I say, you have no promise" (D & C 81 :3)

Satans or man's covenants - Satan is a liar. You cannot believe any promise he will make you. Or if he does pull through, it will not be what he proposes it is. He is a master of deception. He will flatter you, attend to your ego, offer you power so that you will believe that you can have all you want, but not tell you all of the plan. Those who try to back out of a covenant with Satan or those that seek power, find they have lost freedom to choose. They loose their rights and are often abused, bullied, and force to do what they no longer want to. Once you are in Satan's covenant, you have little hope of escape, unless you beg for God's help.

This is but a little play.. in one year of the life of the Judges. It teaches us the importance of making covenants with faithful and loving followers of Christ who will adhere to their promises. It teaches us the dangers of listening to flattery that groups of piers often bring.

Paanchi lost his life because he lost his faith in his covenants with God.

I purposely put all of the background of Paanchi's father so that we would remember that he was taught of goodly parents. He watched his father stand for truth and fight for liberty. But he allowed himself to be misled by flattery and pier pressure. He allowed himself to forget to listen to God's love, his mother's love, and the strength of his family.

Vs 11 - they all entered into a covenant - this was the defining verse for me. WE ALL HAVE THE RIGHT TO CHOOSE OUR COVENANTS- We can choose to bind ourselves with friends that do not exercise their faith or those that do. Who we choose to socialize with affects how we will behave and believe. When we allow ourselves to be flattered, we set ourselves up for a loss of faith, family, and freedoms.

Where did Paanchi's flattery lead him? Where did his selfish intentions take him? What happened to those whom he lead? How did life fair for them? Why is it important to listen to the faith of our covenants with a loving and righteous God?

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