Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Missing Paradise

My Dear Reader,

As any educated person in this world should know, the Book of Mormon is essentially a story about a group of people who left Jerusalem right before the fall of Jerusalem and made their way to the Americas. The narrative covers around a thousand years of history from these people, not to mention the history of an older civilization that these people came upon later. Interestingly enough, there are about three hundred years out of this thousand that go virtually unrecorded, and there's no real indication of why the stories during this time period were left out. What's more interesting is the fact that these three hundred years occur in the Fourth Book of Nephi, which describes the time just after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, when the teachings of Christ instructed and inspired an entire nation to create a perfect society akin to the city of Enoch. Why, when civilization was at its peak, were the stories left out?

I've heard a lot of speculation on the subject, and in my experience, the majority of my peers seem to think that it's because there were no stories to tell. I guess their theory is that when poverty, hunger, sin, and corruption are eliminated, nothing really happens that's worth talking about. I refuse to accept this explanation, mainly because of its very frightening implications. If this society's story was silenced because it was boring, than perfection equals boredom. If perfection equals boredom, we're going to have a really hard time in the next life.

When I was a child, I was really afraid of the afterlife. I wasn't really afraid of death, though I knew it would probably be very painful; people who truly believe in an afterlife have more things to worry about. I was afraid because I didn't exactly have a very clear idea of what was going to happen after I died. I mean, I know that the good are supposed to go to a paradise, but what is that? An eternity of playing video games? What happens when we get sick of Philadelphia cream cheese? To the eight-year-old me, it seemed like boredom was inevitable, and an eternity of boredom seemed very, very, frightening. It makes you wonder why we bother being good at all.

The same kind of idea is the premise behind the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Death Wish."* (I know, I know, I referenced Star Trek twice in two weeks. Sorry.) The story involves a member of an omnipotent race called the Q who wants to be euthanized because he feels that he has experienced all that life has to offer. Because he has existed since the beginning of time, he claims that there is nothing left for him to experience or know. In a sense, he says that he's suffering from the same kind of boredom that I feared as a child, which must be the same boredom that supposedly existed in Fourth Nephi.

Okay, first of all, I just can't believe that the good and loving God of the Universe would really make things like that. When you become suicidal, it stops being paradise, and that's not much of a reward for a long life of righteousness. If anything, I would think that the Devil would be more behind this vision of boredom than anybody, since he's been trying for ages to make us believe that sin is exciting, and people are falling for it by the millions. Second of all, I happen to know that there are plenty of good stories that are about good people who try to do the right thing. Take Anne of Green Gables, for example. You won't find any villains there, just a bunch of good, well-rounded characters who live their lives as normally as possible. Sure, there are no explosions, but they manage all right. Thirdly, I honestly don't believe that being good (or even being perfect) means being the same, which is what I think this whole idea stems from: a fear of being the same. God created individuals for a purpose, and there are a great deal of choices out there that aren't good versus evil. We don't have to wear the same outfit or like the same kind of movies because we're human beings, not mindless drones. I suppose that I don't exactly understand how it's going to work after we die, but I know that the perfect equals boring argument is a fallacy, because it makes absolutely no sense when you believe that paradise is supposed to be a paradise.

In fact, my guess is that those stories were left out because we as a people don't get how a paradise works. After all, we've had The Bible for millennia and we haven't gotten anywhere near that city of Enoch, even though we've had the blue prints staring us in the face the entire time. Heavenly Father knew that we'd never get there until the Second Coming of Christ; John makes that very clear. In fact, it's going to get pretty ugly before then. And considering that God knew that we would never be put in a paradise in this life, it would make sense that He would ask His prophets to write about things that we would have to deal with, like poverty, hunger, sin, and corruption. In a sense, I think that those three hundred years were skimmed over because they were irrelevant, not because they were boring. I guess we're just not ready to learn about what happened in detail.

I hope that one day soon we will be.

Regards, best wishes, and paradise,

-Cecily Jane

* By the way, it's a good episode about ethics and morality. You should rent it some time.


Stephen & Cindy Jensen Family said...

Can I just say that I think your amazing. I never think about things like this -- but I am glad some do for people like me.

~Stappsters~ said...

You're pretty righteous and not boring at all. I think those Nephites were too busy working, praying, and having linger longers to write down what was going on.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Cecily the Socrates of our time! Like your comments on boredom. I don't think I'll switch from saying "Only boring people get bored" to "Bordome is of the Devil" ---but I think it is most likely true MJH