Sunday, September 30, 2012

Terrorists!!! Or, "Que Manhã Quemada" - Gospel Doctrine Lesson 36

There was a call late last night that one of our Gospel Doctrine teachers had fallen off a ladder and needed a substitute. He told his wife to call me as I'm in the new Sunday School Presidency (and we don't even get to ring the bell anymore!) I love teaching Sunday School and don't mind the last minute calls. In fact, the later the better as it forces me to rely more on the Spirit. But as we have late church until January, I had several hours to prepare.

My fist reaction when I realized it was Lesson 36 was a bit of a nervous shudder. I believe that we should liken the scriptures unto us which I have done, loving this portion of the Book of Mormon because there is so much there I "likened" to lead me to my personal political views and philosophy. But I knew I had to be respectful to keep my personal views in check. On the blog I feel I can express myself more fully because while clearly influenced by gospel teachings, I am not an official spokesman for the church as I am when I am fulfilling an assignment at church. That's just the way I see it.

At Sunday School, I can teach the principles and let people be inspired themselves if the Spirit directs them that way. And I have to be respectful of the way the Spirit is directing me.

What am I talking about? Here are some principles from those chapters.

Does Faith include doubt? When the the non-believers were in an "uproar" to the point of putting the believers to death because the signs of Christ's birth had not appeared as prophesied by the Prophet Samuel on the wall, this is how the righteous responded:
. . . and the people who believed began to be very sorrowful, lest by any means those things which had been spoken might not come to pass.
But behold, they did watch steadfastly for that day and that night and that day which should be as one day as if there were no night, that they might know that their faith had not been vain. 3 Nephi 1:7-8.
Yes. The point of Faith is not to be without doubt, but to continue "steadfastly" regardless. And that night in response to Nephi's fervent prayers, the Lord announced his own birth and the signs were given.

These chapters also go into an accelerated spinning of the "pride-cycle." Here are some things specifically condemned as leading the blessed to unrighteousness:
. . . there began to be some disputings among the people; and some were lifted up unto pride and boastings because of their exceedingly great riches, yea, even unto great persecutions;
For there were many merchants in the land, and also many lawyers, and many officers.
And the people began to be distinguished by ranks, according to their riches and their chances for learning; yea, some were ignorant because of their poverty, and others did receive great learning because of their riches.
Some were lifted up in pride, and others were exceedingly humble; some did return railing for railing, while others would receive railing and persecution and all manner of afflictions, and would not turn and revile again, but were humble and penitent before God.
 And thus there became a great inequality in all the land . . . . 3 Nephi 6:10-14.
No, I didn't draw any conclusions in that part of the lesson nor do I need to here. I think any reader knows how I feel about these things as we "liken them unto us" in our present situation. (I do get uncomfortable when they keep bringing up the lawyers! At least they threw in the merchants with their "free market" and all.). I just tried to get the class members to read it and think about it. And then there was this about the total collapse of their society after they murdered the governor and fell into fueding contentious tribes:
And the regulations of the government were destroyed, because of the secret combination of the friends and kindreds of those who murdered the prophets. 3 Nephi 7:6.
Destroying the regulations of the government! OK, I confess I did let that line slip in. But is in the scripture there.

And then there was the whole bit about the Gadianton Robbers. We did read and discuss the defensive actions of the good Governor Lachoneus and how he had the people gather in the center of the land for purely defensive war as he also taught them that the Lord would protect them if the prayed and repented. And it worked. I had to get in the bit about the Warrior Prophet Gidgidonni, one of my favorites in the whole Book of Mormon:
Now the people said unto Gidgiddoni: Pray unto the Lord, and let us go up upon the mountains and into the wilderness, that we may fall upon the robbers and destroy them in their own lands.
But Gidgiddoni saith unto them: The Lord forbid; for if we should go up against them the Lord would deliver us into their hands; therefore we will prepare ourselves in the center of our lands, and we will gather all our armies together, and we will not go against them, but we will wait till they shall come against us; therefore as the Lord liveth, if we do this he will deliver them into our hands. 3 Nephi 3:20-21.
I did not mention this "likening" in the class, but going "upon the mountains" sure sounds like Afghanistan, and "into the wilderness" sure sounds like Iraq. I'm pretty sure, though, our discussion got the principle of defensive war across.

And then I got to my personal story:

"Oh How Lovely Was the Morning" Portuguese LDS Hymnal Version
The picture is a scan of an item in my mission scrapbook - almost a sacred relic. Just before I got down to Brazil, the LDS Branch Chapel in Uruguaiana was burned to the ground, as we understand it, through arson by Marxist Terrorists from Argentina - although I'm not sure there was ever a conviction.

I made numerous and frequent trips to Uruguaiana from Alegrete as our missionaries there were doing great work and I had to do a lot of baptism interviews. One elder gave me this page as a souvenir from his service with the Branch cleaning up the destroyed church site to prepare the ground for a new chapel.

This came back to me many years later in December 2003 when I attended a missionary reunion. Our Mission President, a native Brazilian, was in Salt Lake City for the holidays. If you remember what was happening in 2003 (i.e., war in Iraq two years after 9/11) imagine how I felt struggling to translate the President's talk (so I could whisper it to my wife) when he told us that we had no reason to be concerned or fear terrorism. He reminded us of the chapel in Uruguaiana destroyed by terrorists many years ago. What did we do? We kept on "steadfastly" doing the Lord's work and rebuilt it. We need not fear terrorists, just trust in the Lord.

This morning while preparing these thoughts to present to the class, I did a little search to see what chapel they might be using currently in Uruguaiana. It appears there may be more than one. And then I found this:

Uruguaiana, Rio Grande do Sul, Brasil - Stake Center 2010
by Ricardo630 from Wikipedia Commons (free use)
Thank you, President. You, Lachoneus, Gidgidonni, and Nephi were right.


  1. Thank you. I keep hoping I will get to sacrament meeting soon, but I know sitting through two or three hours is just not realistic. I appreciate it when I get to read the lessons taught by some of my favorite bloggers. The lessons at Keepa are one of my favorite sources.

    It does constantly amaze me how differently people interpret scriptures. A friend's comment about today's lesson, "If people don't stay in their own countries, but come and attack ours, of course we have to attack them where they are. Once 9/11 happened, it was and is righteous to take the war to them, just like they took it to us." WHAT? Where the heck was that in the lesson? Sheesh.

    1. Thanks, Julia. Here's what I think about "crazy talk" at church. It doesn't do any good to fight it. Sometimes you can calmly point out a differing viewpoint or refer to a scripture or an official church statement and let people think for a bit. And all our individual viewpoints have no monopoly on the truth unless come together to work at it by the Spirit or have clear direction from inspired leaders. My trust is in the Spirit that it will eventually lead people to the truth.

      I mean, sometimes "crazy-talk" helps point out the fallacies of the non-doctrinal statements in that it's clear the Spirit is NOT testifying of any truth there. Back studying Jacob in the Book of Mormon about Woe unto the learned who don't hearken to the counsels of God, etc. A sweet, but rather eccentric, elderly sister commented, "My granddaughter went to the U and all she learned was to be an atheist and to love Obama." There were some titters in the room as everyone (pretty much) recognized that as "crazy-talk." And people have to stop and think, "well, not all U of U students come out atheists and Obama lovers - and I know a lot of Obama supporters who aren't atheists - like - Bro. Vaughn for instance! And he went to the Y!"

    2. And,I am aware that the elderly sister's statement was crazy and even offensive on several layers. There is a pretty clear hint of racism in the "Obama lover" phrase. I hope I don't have to explain why. But, once again, no one is going to be able to change a nearly 90-yr-old mind-set by one correction in Sunday School. But such statements in the eccentric-elderly context, helps others to learn, grow and avoid such things, IMO. And maybe even her. (I was not the teacher that day. The teacher ignored the comment and went on to a different subject - probably the best way to avoid giving it any validation under the circumstance.)


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