Ever since President Hinckley’s 100 day challenge, I have set goals to read the Book of Mormon quickly. I’ve read it in 100 days several times and in as little as 5 weeks. Reading the Book of Mormon more like a regular book and less like a boring chore helped me to see the prophets as real people. This was especially true for Alma the Elder, who recognized and acted on truth when it was not to his benefit. In my mind, he is the greatest scriptural example of the power of the atonement to change us for the better. The visionary dreams of Nephi provided me with a new way of looking at the relationship between God and ordinary people. As an art historian, I enjoyed the imagery that they contain. More and more, the final books of the BOM are haunting, reinforced by successes and subsequent downfall recorded Ether. The Book of Mormon makes the Americas seem like the island in the TV show Lost. People are continually brought to this sacred place only to find destruction from within. But this time, there were no new insight, no new special feelings, only disappointment and nagging feelings of failure. I had read the Book of Mormon, but I had failed to read the Book of Mormon.
And now there is a new resolution for 2013. I’m going to read the Book of Mormon slowly – really slowly. I’m going to read it in 365 days. No more glossing over my least-favorite passages. No neglecting to use my critical thinking skills in favor of the unquestioning faith approach. This time will be different. There will be questions mixed in with believing and attempts at finding real answers. I’m going to wrestle with it like Jacob wrestled with the angel and then I’m going to blog about it. More than writing in my journal, blogging will make me accountable for finding the new and unfamiliar.
I’m not used to sharing my inner feelings about the gospel and the scriptures. Its not that I’m afraid, so much as I don’t think anyone cares. Too often I see that we, as LDS people, are content with easy answers to complex questions. I have been too content with shallow readings of difficult passages and I want to fix this. I’m hoping to bring about a spiritual rejuvenation of myself where I feel cynicism creeping in. I look forward to this new beginning.