I went to 3rd Nephi and read through the chapter summaries until I got to the one where Christ arrives, chapter 11. I started skimming it. Jesus arrives in glory and lets the people touch his wounds. Then he says some things about repentance and baptism. Then Jesus starts giving the sermon on the mount, essentially straight out of the New Testament.
Reading the beatitudes, the phrase "blessed are the cheese-makers" involuntarily came to mind, and the following line about how it's not meant to be taken literally but rather refers to all makers of dairy products in general. The thought of it made me laugh to myself.
One idea struck me however: The Book of Mormon was supposed to have been prepared by Heavenly Father specifically to be of value to us in these latter days. Yet being omniscient, He knew that we would have access to the Bible. So why was so much of this book copied directly from the King James Bible? Realistically I had to admit that a comedy troupe's parody gave more insight into the life of Christ than this book did.
I knew that after the visit of Christ to the New World there was supposed to have been four hundred years of peace and righteousness in which the curse of dark skin was lifted from the people. I went to 4th Nephi to see if that part contained any beautiful spiritual insights. I found that the entire four hundred years amounted to less than a chapter's worth of vague mention. I hadn't remembered that part as having been so short, but then again I couldn't say that I remembered any particular stories from that part either. Before the chapter ended, instead of the entire populace being righteous white people, the people started becoming wicked again and dividing up into the white (Nephite) population and the wicked dark-skinned Native Americans (Lamanites) in anticipation of the ending in which there would be more violent battle scenes where all of the white ancient Americans were killed before the arrival of the explorers and settlers from Europe.
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I had always been taught that the Lord's ways are mysterious and that we can't expect to understand them. Yet I felt that there should be some explanation as to why the most important scripture for our day should be so full of gory war stories and copied Bible chapters and so devoid of original spiritual insight.
Then I allowed myself to ask the one most forbidden question of them all: What if it's not true?
It was hard for me to ask myself this because I had been trained that doubting the truthfulness of the gospel is itself a sin. Yet I couldn't escape seeing this as the only possible conclusion.
Once I allowed myself to ask this question, the answer became painfully clear. All my life I "knew the church was true" because I had been trained to know it was true. I had no evidence. A "burning in the bosom" on the part of a few million people out of the billions on the planet did not constitute evidence for such an elaborate and nonsensical story.
I felt like I needed to get out and walk around to think. I had been so lost in my own thoughts that I had hardly noticed Janie at her own desk reading her own copy of the Book of Mormon, although perhaps not gaining quite the same insights from it as I was. I told Janie I was going for a walk. She admonished me to be careful out walking in the dark like that, and to be sure to be back before curfew. I promised to be careful, and I set off along the long and curving path back under the bridge and back up to campus. It was starting to get dark out, but the path was lit.
I started to worry that perhaps I was trying to convince myself that sin and its price don't exist because of my selfish desire to act on my sexual attraction towards Rex. Perhaps Satan and his temptations and lies were encouraging me to deceive myself. I worried about the eternal consequences if it turned out that my conclusion was wrong.
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