Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Top 20

Book Magazine recently released a list of the twenty books that changed America. Among their list was “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” (credited by Abraham Lincoln as the book that started the Civil War), “The Communist Manifesto” (For good or bad, it had a tremendous impact on America), as well as “Atlas Shrugged”, and “Common Sense”.

The surprise for me came from seeing the Book of Mormon on the list. Now, I’m not at all surprised that it SHOULD be on the list. I’ve known of it’s impact on US history for years. But, I was surprised that a secular organization would recognize the impact of a religious book. Especially of a Mormon religious book.

For a long time, I’ve felt it’s personal impact. I’ve received insights, inspiration, and clarity through it’s verses. Comfort, peace, and understanding. All that good stuff that a religious book is supposed to bring.

Let me share some of my favorite moments:

One of my all-time favorite stories in the book is the conversion of Zeezrom. This guy is a snake, but he gets bitten by the Spirit, and his conversion is complete. He witnesses the destruction of hundreds of believers by fire, and wracked with guilt flees to another city. There, he lays on his sickbed, tormented by fever and repentance. Finally, he hears that Alma and Amulek are still alive, and sends for them.

“And it came to pass that Alma said unto him, taking him by the hand: Believest thou in the power of Christ unto salvation?

”And he answered and said: Yea, I believe all the words that thou hast taught.

”And then Alma cried unto the Lord, saying: O Lord our God, have mercy on this man, and heal him according to his faith which is in Christ.

”And when Alma had said these words, Zeezrom leaped upon his feet, and began to walk; and this was done to the great astonishment of all the people; and the knowledge of this went forth throughout all the land of Sidom.”

Another favorite of mine is commonly referred to as “Nephi’s Psalm”. It’s a beautiful passage where Nephi both celebrates the visions and blessings that the Lord has sent him, and mourns his own unworthiness. Boy, I can relate. I mean, I’ve never had visions like Nephi, but I’ve been blessed, and yet, I’m not worthy, either…

“Nevertheless, notwithstanding the great goodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth: O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.

“And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted.

”My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep.

“He hath filled me with his love, even unto the consuming of my flesh.

”And upon the wings of his Spirit hath my body been carried away upon exceedingly high mountains. And mine eyes have beheld great things, yea, even too great for man; therefore I was bidden that I should not write them.

”O then, if I have seen so great things, if the Lord in his condescension unto the children of men hath visited men in so much mercy, why should my heart weep and my soul linger in the valley of sorrow, and my flesh waste away, and my strength slacken, because of mine afflictions?

”Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul.”

Mark Hansen

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