Blind Spots

It’s no doubt that we all have our weaknesses.  One of the aspects of the human condition is how hard it is for us to see our own weaknesses.

One of my weaknesses is the way I say things.  It takes people a while to get used to, but generally once we’ve become acquainted it’s usually not an issue anymore.  They do however, still notice.  I’ve been told at my current job that there’s a list of Jacobisms floating around that eventually they’ll share with me.  Because I don’t notice them I can only imagine how long the list is, or how funny it is out of context.

Just this week I know I’ve said things like, “don’t make me supervise you” (to my boss), and “sometimes, I do things” while at work.  Out of context, these are pretty funny.  I’ve also got the line, “I may not be well informed, but I have a strong opinion about X.” Which is a phrase that is so useful more people should adopt it.

All of these have been understood in context and appreciated by the audience.  All were spoken using English, but its English with a mannerism that is certainly reflective of my personality.

I know I do this, but I have the fault of not being as conscious of it as I should be.

It’s easy for others to see.  It’s not easy for me.  It’s easy for others to see your faults.  It’s not easy to see them ourselves.  I imagine we all have (at times) participated in the art of finding fault in others.  I think it’s part of the teenage experience.

When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.

-Mark Twain

This week I was having a conversation that was productive to a point, but then I noticed a theme in the discussion.  We were observing and commenting only on the faults of the individuals we were discussing.  We were talking about their blind spots.  I’d like to think we were generally being polite in our discourse, but I knew if we’d continued the dialogue it might have easily shifted to where I would have been uncomfortable having them talk about me, the way I was talking about them.

Then the scripture came to mind in Ether 12:27:

And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

Remembering that scripture helped me to remember to be kind.  The people who were the subject of the conversation probably have just as many faults as I do (but who’s counting anyway?).  The solution for them is the same for me.  Be humble and take your weaknesses to the Lord so that he can make them strong.

I once wrote that just because someone is on the same path doesn’t mean they have the same destination.  Those who choose to follow Heavenly Father’s plan to overcome their weaknesses are on the same path.  I know what it’s like to walk that path and can relate those who on it with me.

There’s really not much insight in this post other than I found a way to apply a scripture to help me be kinder in my thoughts and more appreciative of those around me.  And now you all know there’s a list of Jacobisms floating around my work.  If I ever get a copy of it, I’ll have to post it here.

Book of Mormon Lexicon

This talk was written to be given in the Oak Creek Ward, Meridian ID on 12 March.  Due to a fire alarm getting pulled, it wasn’t presented and I don’t want the thoughts to be unshared and so I’m posting it here.

While Chrissy has introduced our family as part of her talk I get to introduce myself.  I grew up a kid with a lot of energy and as I’ve aged I’ve learned to put that energy into different subjects over the years.  I rarely lose myself in a novel, because I just tend not to read novels.  I’m more comfortable going through a text book on a subject I’m curious about or thumbing through etymology in a dictionary.  On my commute to work I’ve usually got a podcast or an audio book playing.

We all have places we've said fond goodbyes to over the years.
We all have places we’ve said fond goodbyes to over the years.

I’ve become a bit eccentric about certain things I’ve studied over the years.  A friend of mine at work and I are putting together a list of things people shouldn’t ask me if they want short answers to questions.  We’ve titled the list “Don’t ask the following if you want a short answer.”  The list includes my opinion on the merits of the Oxford Comma.  Which I imagine others have strong opinions about as well.  It also includes things like asking me which font to use.  My farewell talk in Germany included fonts.  The #1 thing on the list is asking me what my favorite dictionary is.  Yes there is a difference, and if you’d like to talk about it, let’s do it when there’s some good food.  I’m sure this subject will make me the most popular person at the Ward Christmas party.  Set a reminder on your phone to sit with the Roeckers!

Usually in my talks I try to throw in some odd insight and tie it back to the gospel.  Today I’d like to share two words with you in my talk about the Book of Mormon.  Today’s words are gongoozle and adieu.  The first word is wonderfully specific and I doubt you realize that you’ve been guilty of gongoozling in your life.  The word has truly British origins and means to stare at the behavior in a canal.  It’s oddly specific right?  It doesn’t mean to look at a stream, or a river, but only the behavior in a canal.  While you probably didn’t ever believe you needed that word in your life, enough people did that some lexicographer added it to the dictionary and there we have one of the most oddly specific words in the English lexicon.  So, if the weather’s good and you see a canal, go ahead and do a bit of gongoozling.  I personally find it very relaxing.

I was asked to talk about the Book of Mormon and in particular reference the conference talks from the October’s General Conference.  The talk I’ve chosen to reference today is by Elder Gary E. Stevenson.  In his talk he has four sections.  First he starts with a personal story about a twelve year old girl being touched by the spirit to read the Book of Mormon while others had concluded she was too young to grasp its meaning and importance.

The second part of his talk explains the keystone of an archway and how the Book of Mormon is often compared to a keystone.  Joseph Smith is the most pronounced individual to declare that the Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion.  Elder Stevenson challenged his audience in this section to make the Book of Mormon the keystone of our testimony.

His final two sections involve his personal witness of the book and encouraging others to seek within its pages to obtain their own personal witness.  In his call to receiving your own personal witness he quotes the specific challenge and promise at the end of the Book of Mormon where Moroni challenges his audience to read, remember, and ask if the book is true.

Rainey and I were talking this morning about how some gospel rules come with specific blessings while others are more general.  We covered why tithing is sometimes referred to as fire insurance.  We discussed the word of wisdom in D&C 89, and then talked about the ten commandments.  The challenge to honor thy father and thy mother comes with the promise that thy days may be long on the land the Lord thy God shall give thee.  After just having talked about daylight savings time, Rainey believed–just for a moment–that this meant there’d be more sunlight during the day to give you time to play with friends.

When you have a detailed promise in the scriptures it’s ok to be detail oriented in your study of the scriptures.  I loved the details I’ve discovered in the Book of Mormon.  1 Nephi 13:12 has Christopher Columbus.  One verse later you read that all of our ancestors who crossed the ocean to come to this land were each led by the Spirit.  3 Nephi 11 is rich with the simplicity and beauty of the instructions the Savior personally gave to the Nephites, but for my father this section was an answer to prayers he said as a non member.  He told a friend once that if Jesus Christ really was who he said he was, then more ought to be written about him than just what’s in the Bible.  One of the friends he shared that with was LDS, and my dad’s life has never been the same since.

Nephi’s writing style is like a delicious meal.  He’s very careful in the way he talks about his brothers.  Laman and Lemuel may have made poor choices, but have you ever noticed how Nephi never uses aggressive or demeaning language when writing about them?  He goes out of his way to narrate their role in his family’s story without any excess negativity.  I do hope that we can adopt this tone in our own families.

The second word I wanted to share with you is the word Adieu.  It appears one time in all of the standard works at the end of the book of Jacob.  We teach our children that Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon into English.  But Adieu is a French word.  I struggle often with words that have a French etymology.  French words have been known to invade the English language before.  Most of our meat words are from French.  For example beef has a French origin but comes from a cow.  This has to do with the fact that the French nobility in England could afford to eat their animals and used words for the meat that were different than the words the peasantry used for the animals themselves.

So Joseph Smith is commanded to translate the book into English and chooses a French word.  While to most of us Adieu is nothing more than an elegant way to say goodbye and certainly when it’s used in Jacob 7:27 it is when Jacob is saying goodbye to his readers, but why didn’t Joseph just use goodbye?  The answer is in the specifics of the word.  No word in English is specific enough to share what Jacob is trying to say.  He’s not simply saying farewell. The dieu in adieu refers to deity and adieu means not only farewell, but a parting that calls upon the listener to remember their God.  He’s saying in our parting I commit you to God.  The farewell is familiar and contains a tone of finality fitting of an eloquent man.

While we may have specific words like gongoozle in our lexicon, we had nothing better to express this thought.

Elder Stevenson’s challenge to make the Book of Mormon the keystone of our testimonies is a challenge with great promised blessings.  His testimony included the belief that these blessings are available to all regardless of age.  The process for doing this is to follow Moroni’s advice to read, remember, and ask.  My testimony to you this day is that the Book of Mormon is true and that as you return to Moroni’s formula you can have a greater appreciation for what the keystone of our religion can do in your life.  Sometime it’ll inspire a dramatic instantaneous life change.  Other time it may just be enough to teach an amateur etymology enthusiast like myself that words with French origins aren’t that bad.

Done

Tonight I finished the code for the Book of Mormon Podcast. I can now go to sleep knowing that it’s completed.

Since I started the podcast as a way to keep busy while listening to Spring’s General Conference I’ve had more than 400 people sign up for the podcast. It’s neat to think that they depend on me for something as important as their scripture study.

When you search in iTunes for the podcast you’ll notice there’s another gentleman that has podcasted the book of Mormon under the title of “The Official Audio Book of Mormon.” There’s nothing “official” about his version of the podcast–except that is uses the same church audio files.

One of the reason why my version took so long to produce is that each chapter contains the summary information integrated with the files. This makes the podcast appear more professional.

What’s the next step? I’d encourage the fellow bloggers out there to add a link to http://roeckerfam.com/bom.xml on their webpages with the title of “The Book of Mormon Podcast.” Every search engine looks at blogs to find new and popular topics. They increase the ranking of a search’s keywords based upon how many blogs & websites that have the link. Right now “the book of mormon podcast” shows this podcast as 7th. If you can take the time to link to it eventually it’ll win out as the first choice.

Oddly enough this is an online project where I don’t actually get anything out of it. I could have built the podcast for some gain, but didn’t because it didn’t feel right. The other six search results that are ahead of this one–didn’t deliver a free version of the scriptures :-(.

Well, thanks for listening!

Significant Projects (Post 1)

I’m a project guy. There doesn’t seem to be an end to the list of projects I’ve got running around the house. Some of them I haven’t finished. Some of them I’ll probably never finished. I’m not sure how many other “project guys” there are out there but every time I hear about an open source free something-or-other I think to myself–Wow there’s a guy that actually got a project done–and I can use it to.

Today’s project is something that just got released in early August. Recently Apple decided to open up the iPods to externally written applications. This means that you can do any number of things legally on the machines that you used to only be able to do illegally before. Now that it’s legal to create apps for the devices what’s one of the first apps created?

You guessed it! The LDS scriptures. Searching on the iTunes store there’s several versions of this. One done by Lee Falin is free. This application only works with the iPod touch and the iPhone. Since I don’t own either one I can’t tell you how well it works. I can tell you it’s available.

Today I also added 21 new chapters to the Book of Mormon Podcast. It seems that there’s a lot of good people willing to take sharing the scriptures to the digital community out there.

Got an iPhone or iPod Touch? You can download both the application and the podcast. If you’re in the mood to read the scriptures you can listen to them. If you’re in the mood to read then you’ll have them available.

For all iTunes (and most other media players) you do not need an iPod to use the Book of Mormon Podcast. In iTunes you’d select “Advanced” “Subscribe to Podcast” and then input the following link: “http://roeckerfam.com/bom.xml”

There’s a few other significant projects I’ll be talking about this week as well. Stay tuned. Try them for a week. Remember they’re digital–if you don’t like them–delete them.

Inspiration

I loved being a Sunday School Teacher at church. We had terrific youth and great subject matter–The Book of Mormon. This morning I mowed the lawn and listened to 1 Nephi 11. To any passage of scripture there is usually enough to cause whole volumes of commentary. This blog will serve as a contribution to the Book of Mormon commentary that exists in various forms. The most famous author of Book of Mormon commentary is likely to be Hugh Nibley. I cannot compete with his scholarly approach to investigating the complexities of the book. Let’s see though, if I can add some small contribution.

1 Nephi 11 takes place in response to Nephi’s father, Lehi, re-telling his vision of the tree of life. Nephi, having unanswered questions regarding the vision ponders and inquires as to the meaning of the things his father saw. Two things stuck out on me today. The first were in verses 9 & 10 when Nephi is conversing with the heavenly messenger:

9 And it came to pass after I had seen the tree, I said unto the Spirit: I behold thou hast shown unto me the tree which is aprecious above all.

10 And he said unto me: What desirest thou?

Verse 9 showed that Nephi had listened well enough to his father’s words to recognize the tree when he saw it. How well do I know the processes of heaven? Will I be able to recognize them?

The second thing I care to mention tonight is Nephi’s greatest “OH WOW!!” in all of the Book of Mormon. To explain this I’d like to present you with the following ‘puzzle.’ Without being told anything decipher the characters below as something meaningful:

٠ ١ ٢ ٣ ٤ ٥ ٦ ٧ ٨ ٩

Give up? Here’s a hint–count how many of them you see. Now which one looks like something you’re familiar with? Did you guess it? They’re numbers. In some parts of the world it is still perfectly normal to write numbers in this manner. Now, let’s talk about Nephi’s version of normal when it comes to Christ.

Nephi at this point in the scriptures doesn’t ‘know’ Christ. He knows a lamb being offered by his father (or another priest) on behalf of his sins. This is what he knows of God. It’s not bread and water. Now in the chapter Nephi is asking to understand what is the meaning of the tree. The scripture records this conversation.

18 And he said unto me: Behold, the avirgin whom thou seest is the bmother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh.

19 And it came to pass that I beheld that she was carried away in the Spirit; and after she had been carried away in the aSpirit for the space of a time the angel spake unto me, saying: Look!

20 And I looked and beheld the virgin again, bearing a achild in her arms.

21 And the angel said unto me: Behold the aLamb of God, yea, even the bSon of the Eternal cFather! Knowest thou the meaning of the dtree which thy father saw?

22 And I answered him, saying: Yea, it is the alove of God, which bsheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the cmost desirable above all things.

23 And he spake unto me, saying: Yea, and the most ajoyous to the soul.

Once Nephi sees the child in v. 20 the angel uses a specific and significant title to introduce the child. “Behold the LAMB of God…” Nephi has an OH WOW experience connecting the lamb that he has seen sacrificed with the actual physical person who would be born approximately 600 years from the time they left Jerusalem.

I’ve included v 23 because I marvel how even an angel is so impressed by Christ that he has to add his own two cents to the testimony. Certainly we cannot say enough about the magnitude, and the beauty of this plan of our loving heavenly Father, and his son Jesus Christ.

This oh wow moment of Nephi’s carries over as a theme throughout the Book of Mormon. Notice in King Benjamin’s speech he talks about types and shadows (Mosiah 3:15). Nephi’s brother, Jacob, makes a commentary regarding the law of sacrifice and Abraham sacrificing Isaac. (Jacob 4:5). There’s more to the meaning of the tree, but that will have to wait. In the meantime you can see one more addition to the complexity of the book. Mormon full well knew Nephi’s words would set a pattern for the book, and he wisely included them unabridged.

Sorry for preaching. I couldn’t let the opportunity slip by, and when the opportunity passes again I may take advantage of it once more. By the same token, the view off our back porch was phenomenal and worth sharing. I hope you enjoy.

Book of Mormon Podcast

A while back I got to noticing that I was lazy when it came to reading my scriptures. I took a look at what I was doing with my time and noticed that I spent quite a bit of time enjoying being entertained. Since part of that entertainment was with my MP3 player I decided that I could listen to the scriptures online. When I did a search in iTunes for “The Book of Mormon” I was amazed that I couldn’t find a podcast that would allow me to easily download chapters in the book for listening.

I decided to do something about it. So I created a podcast for the book of Mormon. Now it’s time to let people know it’s out there.

The URL for the Book of Mormon feed is: http://www.roeckerfam.com/bom.xml

I would like to encourage anyone who reads this and blogs, or creates anything online to create a link to this blog entry or to the Book of Mormon podcast feed listed above. By doing this the internet’s search engines will start listing the podcast as a viable source for downloading this unique book of scripture. Please take the time to blurb about it on your blog.

I’ve also noticed that there’s a great podcast for the Ensign that’s put together by the church. I would highly recommend it to anyone.

The Ensign: http://ensign.libsyn.com/rss

I’ve got a 15 minute drive to work back and forth. This is a great way to pass the time and I’d welcome anyone who’d like to join me.

Do you listen to the scriptures in the car? Know of a good uplifting feed? Add it to the comments of this entry.

Subscribing to the podcast:
iTunes
Automatic: Click on the cool image to the right
Manual:
Select”Advanced” “Subscribe to Podcast” and then enter http://www.roeckerfam.com/bom.xml
Odeo: http://odeo.com/channels/2116792-The-Book-of-Mormon

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