Attaining God’s Glory: Looking for Feedback

As I mentioned about a year ago, I have been working on a project for the last couple of years (it probably could have taken a week or two, but I can be quite the procrastinator sometimes).

I’ve gone through several scriptures to determine how we can attain God’s glory. Specifically, what role intelligence and truth play.

Thanks to feedback I received last year, I have finished my second draft, and I am interested in feedback. Feel free to give it a read and let me know what you think. It’s 12 printed pages.

Public Education and Socialization

The most comment/question we get from people who find out we homeschool revolves around socialization.

I’ve discussed previously the issue of socialization and homeschooling, so I am not going to discuss it here. What I would like to discuss, however, is the idea (or, at least, the implication) that public schooling is the source of societal socialization.

I attended 7 schools. The schools were spread over two provinces. That’s a pretty small sample size for sure, but think it does point out at least some consistency in education among some public schools.

In those 7 schools, I was taught various topics: social studies, history, math, physics, French, English, computer science, biology, chemistry, general sciences, health, woodworking, cooking, sewing, typewriting, and so on. I even had physical education classes.

What I didn’t have, however, were etiquette classes. I received absolutely no formal training on protocol for interacting with peers and superiors.

Sure, I had group work and interacted with teachers. Those experiences taught me how to work in groups and how to interact with those in authoritative positions. That being said, they weren’t the only source of my lessons in those areas.

I learnt social skills at church, in Scouts, on my soccer team, buying chocolate bars and Fresca at the corner store, in my friends’ backyards, talking to the police after pranking 911, ordering food at a restaurant, attending family reunions, growing up in a family of seven, getting into fights, working at McDonald’s, getting my driver’s licence, applying for my SIN, bartering on the price of my friend’s 100 comics, and so on.

My own experience teaches me that I learnt social skills throughout my life and because of numerous, varied situations. Going to public school does not seem to have been the basis for my current social skills.

As a result, I wonder not only if this makes the question “what about socialization” moot, but if the purpose of public school is even the point of public education.

Should the point of public schooling be to provide social experiences, which it does to a very limited degree? Should the point of public schooling be to provide instruction and knowledge?

Needing & Giving

Shortly after Alma the Younger gave up his political position as chief judge to devote more time to his ecclesiastical position, he was commanded to go to Ammonihah. Rejected, he turned away, only to be visited by the same angel who had appeared to him and the sons of Mosiah about ten years earlier, and commanded to return to that city.

It was there he met Amulek. Amulek took him in, fed him, let him stay in his home, and even joined him in his missionary efforts. They became a great companionship, confounding the sly and inspiring the poor. They nearly spent a decade together, and had done much to strengthen the Church in the Nephite lands.

While it seemed that Alma had given up a political career for the ministry, Amulek gave up much more. Amulek was well off, and it may be safe to assume he had a successful business. He gave it all up to help Alma. Many of his friends, and even his family, rejected him for his decisions to serve a mission.

Alma recognised the trials his companion had gone through and, upon arriving at his hometown of Zarahemla to preach there, took Amulek to his own home. It was his turn to be the comforter. They stayed a while in that home, Alma strengthening Amulek and offering him comfort.

One in need. The other giving. Oftentimes our own lives are like that, sometimes in need, sometimes we’re giving.

The most important thing to remember is that we never give to others expecting someone will give to us or because they once gave to us. We give to others because that is what the Saviour would do.

Baptismal covenant in Mosiah 18

For part of Gospel Doctrine class, we discussed Mosiah 18. The instructor has someone read verses 8–9, then asked what baptismal covenants were listed therein. The class mentioned four:

  1. bear one another’s burdens
  2. mourn with those who mourn
  3. comfort those in need of comfort
  4. stand as witnesses of God

I raised my had and suggested these weren’t actually covenants we make at baptism.

Look at verse 10:

what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments . . .

Here we see Alma mentioning specific covenants: serving Christ and keeping the commandments. Alma didn’t use similar language when discussing the four items listed above.

Let’s look at verses 8 and 9 a little more closely.

As ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light . . . and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death

This isn’t a complete sentence. It’s actually one long conjunctional phrase led by the word “as”. It could be rewritten as something similar to the following:

Since you want to come into the fold of God, to be called his people, to bear one another’s burdens, to mourn with those who mourn, to comfort those needing comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God

Conjunctions are used to join two parts of speech. The words as and since are both subordinating conjunctions, and they are used to show a cause/effect relationship between ideas. In this case, the cause of the relationship is what is listed above: all the items Alma listed as his people were willing to do.

So what is the effect part of the relationship? It’s in verse 10.

what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord

What is Alma saying exactly? Basically this: since you want to do all these things, why not get baptized?

You see, Alma isn’t listing off numerous baptismal covenants. He is listing characteristics we should have if we want to be baptized. Moroni did something similar in Moroni 6, when he listed certain characteristics we should have if we want to be baptized.

“Neither did they receive any unto baptism save they came forth with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, and witnessed unto the church that they truly repented of all their sins” (Moro. 6:2)

What we do covenant, however, as outlined in Mosiah 18:10, is to serve Christ and keep his commandments.

Lamanitic Curse

Ask any Mormon what the Lamanite curse was, and s/he will likely say something like “dark skin”. And a superficial reading of the Book of Mormon seems to support that idea.

I wonder, however, if it was something a bit deeper and significant than that. After all, what kind of curse is a skin colour change?

Yesterday, i outlined how the Nephites were blessed because they worked. Consider verse 2 Ne 5:11:

the Lord was with us; and we did prosper exceedingly . . .

This is the blessing: having the Lord with them and prosperity.

. . . for we did sow seed . . . and we began to raise flocks, and herds, and animals of every kind

This the cause of the blessing: sowing seed and raising livestock. Or work. Notice the word for. When used as a conjunction, as it is in this case, it means because, since or seeing that. This shows a direct relationship between their work and their blessings.

Now consider 2 Ne 5:24:

because of their cursing . . . they did become an idle people

Here we see another direct relationship; however, this relationship is opposite that of the Nephites. Whereas the Nephites’ blessing is a result of their work, the Lamanites’ idleness is a result of their curse.

So then how does this establish that the curse is something other (or deeper) than a dark skin?

Look at 2 Nephi 5:20:

the word of the Lord was fulfilled which he spake unto me, saying that: Inasmuch as they will not hearken unto thy words they shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord. And behold, they were cut off from his presence.

So where the Nephites kept the commandments and had the Lord with them, the Lamanites did not and the Lord was not with them.

Let’s summarize the parallels here:

Nephites Lamanites
Kept commandments, statutes & judgements (v. 10) Did not hearken to Nephi’s words (v. 20)
Blessed with the Lord’s presence (v. 11) Cut off from the Lord (v. 20)
Work caused blessing (v. 11) Idleness result of curse (v. 24)

Given the parallels, I wonder then if the curse was actually being cut off from God’s presence.

So how does the dark skin fit into this? Perhaps it was a sign of the curse, a physical reminder of the curse.

Thoughts?

Blessings are the fruit of our labours

I came across something interesting the other day while I was reading the scriptures:

“the Lord was with us; and we did prosper exceedingly” (2 Ne 5:11)

You might be thinking, “Well, what’s so interesting about that? The Nephites were always prospering.”

The interesting part came later in the verse:

for we did sow seed . . . and we began to raise flocks, and herds, and animals of every kind.

It seems Nephi suggests their prosperity came as a result of their hard work. Verse 10 mentions that the Nephites kept the commandments, but the above verse seems to indicate that righteousness is not all that is required for us to be blessed.

God expects us to work. I also find it interesting that God tells us that we should spend 6 days working (Ex. 20:9). Saturday shouldn’t be a day of rest equal to Sunday. We should be working.

On that note, does that mean working more results in more blessings? For example, do I get blessed more working 20 hours per day than my neighbour who works 10 hours per day?