“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

Writing is where we truly learn. Join the Journey.

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

Friday, April 15, 2011

New Beginnings by Ann Y.

First of all, I'd like to thank my lovely friend, Linda Shaw, for inviting me to share in her blog. I am so excited! I hope any future readers of my small contribution to this wonderful blog are patient with my failings; this is the first time I have ever blogged, and I really don't know what I'm doing. I'm not the artist that Mrs. Shaw is. She has such a beautifully put together blog, and I am so moved and inspired when I read it. I have no such artistry. All I have are words inside me that are dying to get out. So with your patience and hers, I'll do just that.
I have been reading the Book of Alma lately, and I've been struck by the character of Alma the Younger. This almost naturally leads me to think of villains and heroes.I’m fascinated by stories of heroes who begin as villains. The scriptures are full of these stories of unlikely heroes, people who go from persecuting the believers to being champions of the believers. Of course, one naturally thinks of Saul who became Paul on the road to Tarsus. One also thinks of Alma the Younger, and the four sons of Mosiah. What motivates these men to do evil, to persecute the church?

What I find intriguing are the motives of the Saul/Paul, which, in my opinion, vary greatly from the motives of Alma the Younger and the sons of Mosiah. Paul is in effect, the same person before he leaves for Taursus as he is when he gets there. Saul is really no different from Paul. Saul always fought like a lion for what he believed was righteousness. Before his divine visitation, he fought for his heritage, for thousands of years of tradition, against what he believed were heretical destroyers of the truth. He didn’t know that what he was doing was wrong. He believed that he was in the right. Like many of his faith, he did not understand that the Mosaic Law was always intended to be a preparatory step to ready the people for the advent of Christ. He, like many before and many after his time, believed that the Mosaic Law was a permanent fixture in Judaism, and was intended to be so. In this humble writer’s opinion, Saul’s fanatical adherence to Mosaic Law was his way of reaching for perfection. In examining Paul’s actions after his conversion, it is possible to see that he is really still the same person. Now, he fights for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but he fights with the same dogged persistence and fearlessness with which he had fought for Judaism previously. He was always a leader and defender of the truth as he saw it. There is no appreciable difference (as far as I can see), in the spirit or personality of Saul as opposed to Paul. The only difference between the two men is a knowledge of the truth.

As I examine Alma the Younger and the sons of Mosiah, I reach a totally different conclusion. I like the term for Alma as “Alma the Younger.” I like it because in my opinion, it is so very accurate as a description of the man. He is really, in the beginning of his story, just an angry youth. You see, the way I see it, Alma the Younger is like so many of the youth of prominent men today—both in and out of the church. These sons have lived in the shadows of their fathers. Perhaps they are used to being compared (favorably or unfavorably) with their fathers. Perhaps they have lived their lives in the spotlight and find the light too bright to bear. For this reason, and perhaps many others, they rebel.

When these young men rebel against their fathers, they often rebel against everything their fathers believe in and stand for. For the sons of prophets, this means they turn against the church. Do they do so because they hate their fathers, or because they hate themselves for not measuring up to what they believe is expected of them? Who knows? Maybe they themselves don’t know. I believe, though, that Alma the Younger and the sons of Mosiah are not necessarily as knowledgeable in their wickedness as they might be perceived. My impression is one of knowledge without testimony. One might have knowledge of something one read about in a book or heard from a friend. One might even, on some level, believe the knowledge one has gained this way. Knowledge gained in this way can be easily dismissed or changed by reading or hearing something else. Not so with a testimony.

How many of our youth are members of the church their whole lives, having an in-depth knowledge of all precepts taught to them, and fall away with no remorse at all once they leave home? Why, because they don’t have a testimony. A testimony is a witness from the Holy Ghost. A testimony gives you rock solid evidence in your heart that can go against everything that your senses tell you and still be believed. A testimony is not swayed by every wind of doctrine or trend in belief. And I submit to you, that before their divine visitation, Alma the Younger and the sons of Mosiah did not have such a testimony of the truth. This is why it was so easy for them to rebel against their fathers and against God. This is also why the difference in their behavior before, and their behavior afterwards is so profound. Unlike Paul of the New Testament, they did undergo a profound change. They became different men, such as to be almost unrecognizable after their mighty change.

In my next entry, I would like to explore the power of forgiveness, and why some men in the scriptures seem to be so readily forgiven, while others are destroyed. I believe the deciding factor sometimes is potential…

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails