When I was a boy, as I read the war chapters in Alma, I thought how glorious it would have been to battle the Lamanites along side Moroni. I loved to read about all the strategies they used – it was exciting! But as I have grown older, the war chapters seem to never end as I try to endure getting through the rest of the book of Alma. I’ve been able to liken the battles they had to the spiritual battles we fight today. When I look for similarities, the chapters come to life again.
One question I’ve always had in the back of my mind is why all the writings about the wars? Nephi wanted his plates to be spiritual, not temporal. So why did Mormon write about all the wars?
As I was reading Alma 46, I noticed in the first verse that all those who rejected Helaman’s words went against Helaman and his brethren. Later on in the chapter, it seems that the battles begin between those who are ashamed to take on the name of Christ and those who aren’t ashamed to take on Christ’s name. How different is that from our day?
We all have the temptation to not stand up for Christ. I don’t know where I heard this, but the idea is so true – we may all be willing to die for Christ, but are we truly willing to live for Christ? Are we really prepared to withstand the mocking, jeering and persecutions? Are we willing to be the nerd or spiritual geek around those who think less of the LDS? I think everyone will have to prove his or her loyalty to Christ sooner or later. And I doubt that the test will be one brief instance. We will have to prove ourselves over and over again, from personal situations when no one is looking to public scenes where everyone will know what you stand for. I feel that the quiet battles that I fight in the chambers of our soul are the toughest for me. If I can conquer my own dominion, I can conquer any dominion.
To me, taking on Christ’s name means being like Christ in everything I do from thinking clean thoughts to playing basketball. I could try to go on, but I would spend all day listing the things I could be better at. But for now, the most important thing I need to do is believe in Christ and watch my thoughts and not doubt that I can become like Christ. The more I believe I can become like Christ, the closer I will be to becoming like him. I must not doubt but be believing.
Written November 29, 1999
Today I read part of a speech by Rudy Giuliani who is running for president in 2008. I tend to lean toward the conservative side of the political spectrum and Rudy leans to that side too. When I read part of his speech, the first thing I thought of was the Title of Liberty.
Alma 46:12 says this of Captain Moroni, "And it came to pass that he rent his coat; and he took a piece thereof, and wrote upon it—In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children—and he fastened it upon the end of a pole."
Here is what Rudy said regarding the War on Terror on April 25, 2007,
"This war ends when they stop planning to come here and kill us, but until then, if I have anything to say about it, the lesson that I learned coming out of September 11, 2001, is: never, ever again will this country be on defense waiting for them to attack us. The United States of America will be on offense and make no mistake about it, the Democrats want to put us back on defense."
In my personal opinion, one must remember that the free countries of the world have endured terrorism for decades and we have generally remained on the defensive … not really attacking back at the countries who harbor and support terrorist organizations. The attacks on our country on September 11, 2001 changed that mindset. It was the straw the broke the camel's back. Since then, President Bush and many members of Congress have pursued an agenda of ending terrorism as we know it. The great debate today involves the US invading Iraq, finishing the war that was started there almost 20 years ago and trying to spread democracy in the Middle East … thinking that if the people fundamentally change their views, then perhaps the terrorists will cease attacking us. But the key issue in the debate is whether the war we are waging is succeeding in this quest (spreading democracy) or creating more terrorists which in turn breathes life into terrorism. It is a complex issue. But at the heart of the matter (in my opinion) is the matter of religion. I do not think all followers of Islam want to impose their religion on us, but I think the leadership in many of these Islamic countries lean toward extremism and consequently terrorism. In turn, they would love to see America and the free nations of the world conquered and brought under Islamic rule.
And here is the quote by Rudy that reminded me of the Title of Liberty,
They hate us, not because of anything bad we've done. This has nothing to do with any aggression on the part of the United States of America. It has nothing to do with anything America is taking from anyone. It has nothing to do with Israel and Palestine. They hate us for the freedoms that we have and the freedoms that we want to share with the world, because the freedoms that we have and the freedoms that we want to share with the world are in conflict with their perverted interpretation of their religion, their maniacal, violent, and perverted interpretation of their religion in which they train their young people to be suicide bombers, and they train them to hate you and despise you, and they train them to hate your religion, and to not allow you to have religion of your own, or anyone else. They hate us for the reasons that are the best about us, because we have freedom of religion, because we have freedom for women, because women are allowed to participate in society, because we have elections, because we have a free economy. Well, we're not giving that up, and you're not going to come and take it from us."
Written April 26, 2007
I’ve always wanted to naturally have my study of Alma 46 to intersect with the 4th of July. This is why I’ve doubled up a few chapters this week so that I could post my “inspection” of Alma 46 on the 4th of July.
I am grateful for the liberties which I enjoy. Those liberties do not come freely. We must defend them and preserve them. More than anything, these last few days of studying the Book of Mormon, I’ve come to greatly realize how strongly our spirituality and our liberties are connected. The great promise and curse of this land is still in effect. If we serve God we will prosper. If we turn to wickedness, then when we are ripe, we will be destroyed.
I hope everyone turns to God so that we will be preserved and not rent into pieces and destroyed like Joseph’s garment. This reminds me of the political cartoon Benjamin Franklin wrote that stated “Join, or Die” in referring to the thirteen colonies’ quest for independence from Britain. So too must we be united in the cause to keep the commandments or else we will be destroyed as the Jaredites and Nephites of old.
Written July 4, 2007