Here's how it is. Every general conference or so we are encouraged to do three basic things everyday: Study, pray, and serve. Sure we could tie everything up neatly in the large unwieldy bow that is KTC (Keep The Commandments), but if we ever want to get anywhere we need to rip that parcel open and start unpacking what we mean; take one step out from KTC toward specificity and we have what those Commandments are: Love God, Love others, and Love ourselves. Love is not the easiest thing to qualify on earth, it can get irrational and complicated, so it's nice that we're given simple practices to keep us in the right state day-to-day (hopefully) to start spreading the love like purple dinosaurs.
Can it really be that simple? Do those three basics and everything starts falling into place? I don't know. I've rarely sustained all three together for prolonged periods of time. Service: Does self-serving count? Prayer: do it most days, but I allow myself to get too mechanical too often.
I'll hold off discussing these two for now (and dream of tomorrows that may never come), lets talk sticks. The scriptures are meant to give us direction not just by what they say, but by opening us up to the promptings of the spirit. It's some obedience thing right. IF you study the scrips, THEN you get the spirit. Sounds like a fair trade.
All told that gives us well over 2000 pages to chose from. That's a lot of light reading. Where to start? Talk to most modern Apostles and they'd recommend the Book of Mormon. If called upon to rank the canon in order of most interesting to least interesting to read, my list would look something like this:
- The Old Testament
- The Doctrine and Covenants
- The New Testament
- The Pearl of Great Price
- The Book of Mormon
For some reason I've never been super excited to read the BoM (well I don't really get excited about scripture study in general, but I have my moments, the OT gets me going sometimes and tops the list because some of it is just so bizarre). Recently I came across an interview on NPR with David Plotz, semi-practicing Jew, who'd lost touch with the Good Book. After incidentally encountering the tale of Dinah's rape and her Brothers reaction at his cousins bat mitzvah, he decided that there was a lot he didn't know about the Bible and subsequently went on to blog about his adventure of reading every word (which is now a book).
What a brilliant idea. After years of going through the motions in my scripture study, I think I'll follow David Plotz's lead and blog my study of the Book of Mormon (and maybe even the Old Testament). Heaven help us. Making religion real for me, that's what it's all about, not just empty ceremony, not that ceremony is necessarily empty, it's just how I respond to it often.
Check out A. J. Jacobs in the video above, he's taken things to the next level by actually doing what the Bible says. I'm not quite ready to leap into an entire year or even an entire month yet of complete dedication by strict obedience. I'll start reading consistently, then I'll worry about living the stuff. Still I can't help but be inspired by these men, it's amazing what a little internet surfing can do for you spiritually.