The Book of Mormon

Practically everyone has heard of the Broadway musical written by "the South Park guys" about the Book of Mormon.  I have to admit, I watched a bootlegged copy of it the other day and I can't wait to see it in person.  It won 9 Tony awards and is being called the best musical of the century.  I bought the soundtrack and I listen to it frequently.  It certainly is very obscene--I'm still not so sure why Trey Parker and Matt Stone are so obsessed with obscenity--but I do like its message: that the essence of religion overrides following all of the prescribed rules and the approved dialog.

Anyway, in response to this musical, the LDS church has asked all of its members to share their experience with how the Book of Mormon (the book, not the musical) has changed their life.  Although I am no longer a member of the church I wish to do just that, since it has had a huge impact on my life.

I remember when I was 7 about to turn 8 I had the goal of reading the entire book before I was baptized.  I made it a fair way through the book, as I recall I got through Alma (which is more than half way).  At school, we would often have "readathons" where each student was expected to bring a book to read and we'd read for a couple hours at school.  I would often take the Book of Mormon to read.

There are so many good things that the Book of Mormon teaches us to do.  For example, a slightly modified rendition of the Sermon on the Mount (which is sometimes called the Sermon at the Temple at Bountiful by Mormon scholars, due to the name of the location where it was purportedly given).  I have always felt that the counsel given in that sermon is sagely and certainly seems to have benefited me as often as I have followed it.  There is the sermon given by King Benjamin, where he teaches of the importance of serving each other.  He points out that even though he is king, he still works with his own hands to support himself, rather than living off of tax money.  He is a good example of an honest and humble leader.

Many times I read about Captain Moroni and how he fought so hard in the name of liberty and freedom.  I always wanted to be as stalwart as Captain Moroni in standing for what is right, and I still hope that I will be able to be that strong someday.  Through all of the war, he seems to be unflinching in his defense of justice and freedom.

Another way it changed my life was because it was the primary reason for and purpose of my 2-year proselytizing mission in Japan.  Over the course of those two years, I gave away well over a hundred copies (and perhaps a few hundred copies) of the Book of Mormon.  I taught scores of people about its teachings and doctrines.  I could quote (in Japanese) several passages addressing many different aspects of life--answers to common questions, advice for what to do in a particular situation, etc.  Even if the people I was teaching didn't believe what I had to say, at least they could tell that this was a book that I loved and believed myself.

This book certainly has had an immense impact on my life.  So much good and so much sorrow has come into my life because of it.  In the end, it played one of the major roles in my decision to leave the LDS church, and that decision certainly was a life-changing one for me.  I recommend it as a source of wisdom inasmuch as it contains wisdom.  It encourages people to treat others well, to be kind and loving, and all of those things I believe are good and moral things to do.