The Plates of Brass and the Book of Mormon

Note: this entry is an attempt at fulfilling a specific assignment for my FDREL 121 course in the Pathway program (school). It will read more formally than I like for blog posts, and there are specific references to my faith and Scripture, as defined by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Feel free to read and comment, as usual, but know that this is not me “imposing my religion on you.” It’s a way to share what I’m learning about. I don’t intend it to be offensive, and I hope that it garners some comments and discussion.

This week, we studied 1 Nephi 1-5. I also to use a specific Scripture Study Skill while I was reading, so that it actually became studying. This Week’s Skill that I tried to work on is called “Visualize.”

I’m going to quote my definition of Visualize from my Gathering Attendance Report (another assignment I turned in this week):

“What I garnered by reading about Visualize as a Scripture Study Skill (before our Gathering) was that it’s a sort of ‘Journalistic’ approach to Scripture: Who, what, when, where, why, and how. It also goes deeper than that; the last guideline offered is ‘What is implied but not stated outright? (What are the scriptures not saying that must be happening?)’ This led me back to a question I’d read earlier somewhere in this course’s material, about WHY some things were included, and some things were left out of scripture.”

I had a thought about what is included in the Book of Mormon while I was walking from work to my car, Wednesday or Thursday evening. First Nephi 5: 11-14 states that the plates of brass “did contain the five books of Moses… a record of the Jews from the beginning… down to… the reign of Zedekiah… the prophesies of the holy prophets, from the beginning… down to… the reign of Zedekiah; and… many prophecies which have been spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah… Lehi also found… a genealogy of his fathers…”

It has occurred to me to wonder why these things were not included in their entirety in the Book of Mormon. Did the authors/compilers of the Book of Mormon know that the Pentateuch and Jewish lineage information still existed somewhere in the “Holy Land,” near Jerusalem?

I’ve begun to search for answers using the search engine. One answer can be found in 1 Nephi 6:1 “I, Nephi, do not give the genealogy of my fathers in this part of my record; neither at any time shall I give it after upon these plates which I am writing; for it is given in the record which has been kept by my father; wherefore, I do not write it in this work.” It makes sense that Nephi himself would not use the plates he’d forged by the sweat of his brow for his own writing to copy something he already had in the brass plates; that would have been a waste.

Browsing the search results, I found that the Book of Mormon Study Guide mentions something about my question, on page 38. It’s about Second Nephi, chapter 3. The passage about 2 Ne 3:6-21 mentions “the prophecy of the Joseph, who was sold into Egypt, which is not found in the Bible we have today. It was restored, however, to the Prophet Joseph Smith and is found in the Joseph Smith Translation as Genesis 50:24-38. Lehi found it on the brass plates that his sons obtained from Laban in Jerusalem.”

Somehow, whoever integrated the Plates of Brass into the Book of Mormon knew which passages of the Pentateuch and other books from the Old Testament needed to be retained, even though they had no idea what records, if any, were preserved on the other side of the world.

Believing as I do that all of Scripture is inspired or revealed, I can accept the idea that the decisions made regarding what to pass forward and what to leave behind were also guided by the Holy Ghost.

I testify that the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price are scripture in the same way that the Bible is scripture: they are all inspired or revealed words from God, and have been preserved for the instruction and enlightenment of all who would search them diligently. I believe that Jesus Christ is our chosen Savior and resides with Heavenly Father right now. I believe that Joseph Smith is the Prophet of the Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and I believe that Church to be God’s Church. I also believe that other churches and religions each have some amount of the Truth, but this Church has as much as can be had at this time, and will receive all of it, eventually.

Thanks for reading and commenting.


Turning a New Leaf, as They Begin to Fall

Well, this marks the end of week 2 at a new school.

I noticed yesterday at work, that I wasn’t struggling with my vertigo as I had in the past, during a task that I do infrequently. I am quietly hopeful that this marks a true end to this particular difficult journey. While it may not have been nearly as bad as it is for others, it really blew a hole in a lot of my self-perceptions and activities for over a year.

I’m not certain that the two are not related (school and vertigo). Among many ideas and recommendations was the concept that I must stay active, even if it’s at a reduced level.

The past several months at work, my personal schedule has been under heightened scrutiny: I ran out of sick and vacation time. Then again, I don’t earn much to begin with, because of my job classification: there is no prescribed minimum number of hours I must work each week. I’ve mostly taken advantage of this, making my schedule pretty much at-will for most of my time there, using up most of my paid time off, eating the “cost” of added hours of non-work. Then, there’s the year when THEY took advantage, and told me not to come back to work for nine months or so.

Since my return, I’ve been promised a change in position description and classification. That was four years ago. Two years ago, work began in earnest on the part of one of the higher-ups. Very slow progress has been made, which looks like no change at all from my point of view.

This added scrutiny feels like a punishment, because it seems like my position change will not be approved until I begin to work a minimum number of hours every week. That minimum fluctuated a little early on, then increased, and seems to be holding steady at 30 hours a week.

I’ve missed that goal a few times, but I’ve exceeded it, too. Most of it depends on how I’m feeling physically and mentally. I’m starting to feel needed again, so that helps.

But, at the end of another week, I was tired, managed to come in early anyway, and worked on a task that has been vertigo-causing in the past. Without feeling obvious vertigo.

Have I simply adjusted to it, now. I don’t think so.

But having school as an added distraction and required focus of mental faculties, on top of ramping up work efforts, may have played a big part.

The fact that school is, in fact, a Church program of transition for non-traditional students, also helps quite a bit. I’m praying more, studying scripture more than just reading it, feeling more spiritual promptings, and less resistant to following them. Heavenly Father helps those who help themselves, and who ask for help. He cannot help us if we do not ask Him to.

The program is VERY inexpensive, and an offer for a half-cost scholarship was forwarded to me from two different people. Money WAS tight, because this summer I still didn’t work for three straight weeks, despite the scrutiny. I applied for the scholarship, feeling that it wouldn’t hurt to ask, even if I feel my circumstances aren’t nearly as dire as they are for others. I got the scholarship! I was able to buy a notebook and some pens!

I am living proof that he CAN and WILL help when we ask. Even if we still feel we aren’t worthy, even when we’re still struggling with obedience and faith, He will help us.

I think it helps to be less specific about particular desires: ‘I want to keep this job I have right now,’ or ‘I want to be gainfully employed,’ as a random example. If we’re too specific, we may miss out on what He’s actually doing to help us improve ourselves and our circumstances. Understanding that He has VERY long-term plans for everything can help both with impatience and incorrect desires. On the other hand, being very specific might be just what’s needed: ‘Please help my knee to heal so I can walk without pain’ instead of ‘heal my body’ or ‘take away my pain.’ Perhaps that’s a bad example, as I look at what I’m typing. ‘Look after my family’ may be too vague; ‘help my cousin to overcome her grief’ might be just exactly the target He is looking for me to share with him.

On another hand, I think I stopped praying about my vertigo several weeks ago. And here I am today seemingly recovered.

I don’t want to celebrate too much, in case it comes back and I am bitterly disappointed.

But, I also noticed this week that I was in a better mood than I had been for some time. I was able to have a more positive outlook, and to simply be cheerful during given moments, instead of bitter and hopeless.

I still think that if I never get back to the level of activity I think I was at before all of this began, I still might be better off. I’m learning to be more disciplined with my time. I’m learning to schedule time out from the serious stuff, to try to achieve a balance so I don’t just break under pressure.

My faith is strengthened, my hope renewed, my body a little easier to navigate with.

Now, on to the upper gastrointestinal endoscopy next week! Then we’ll see whether there’s recent evidence of an ulcer or other damage. I’m hoping for a referral to a dietitian or something, anyway: when you aren’t eating well because you’re afraid of food hurting you, you probably don’t have the right amount of energy to think clearly about the food you need to eat.

I’m also looking forward to taking a truly earned “vacation day” and still meeting my 30-hour weekly quota! Isn’t that the true intent of paid time off? Okay, no, it’s not designed for medical procedures, specifically, but it sure helps pad things out when those things are necessary. And, I’m preserving my sick time, which I now understand should only be used when a short-notice absence is necessary, as in when one has a horrible cold that might be contagious.

It’s a strange thing to be optimistic about, isn’t it? I’m just excited, maybe, because it’s a benchmark for me: I’m using paid time off appropriately and have enough of that time saved up to be able to do it right. I’m “adulting,” as I understand the term. I don’t care what spellcheck seems to think that word should be instead of what I’ve typed.