It is difficult to overstate the drama and the beauty of the Book of Mormon’s rendering of these days. As one who watched silvery strands cloud the corneas of my infant son and darken his vision onto blindness, as one who takes the Christ story seriously in the depth of my soul, and as one who more and more considers the place of the sun and the moon, the land and the sea, in our religious imaginations, this scripture leaves me in tears. It also leaves me spinning about why the Book of Mormon is vital for American religious historians. It is not simply an artifact. It is also a treasure trove of ideas. To me, it should be required reading for anyone in my guild, and here are a few reasons.
Has darkness ever overwhelmed you? Have you seen cities sink and communities set ablaze? Has a voice saved you? If you know the Book of Mormon, then you are familiar with the tale I tell. After hundreds of pages chronicling the ebbs and flows of civilizations, the narrative reaches a climax. In Palestine, Jesus Christ was crucified and buried. The world felt the reverberations. “Thick darkness” fell upon the land. Nothing could bring light, “neither candles, neither torches; neither could there be fire kindled with their fine and exceeding dry wood, so that there could not be any light at all.” The sounds of howling and weeping pieced the darkness. Sadness reigned.
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