Friday, June 7, 2013

Nephi’s Sense of Weakness About His Writing, 1 Nephi 19:6-7


6 Nevertheless, I do not write anything upon plates save it be that I think it be sacred. And now, if I do err, even did they err of old;
not that I would excuse myself because of other men,
but because of the weakness which is in me, according to the flesh, I would excuse myself.
For the things which some men esteem to be of great worth,
both to the body and soul,
others set at naught and trample under their feet.
Yea, even the very God of Israel do men trample under their feet;
I say, trample under their feet but I would speak in other words—
they set him at naught, and hearken not to the voice of his counsels.(1 Nephi 19:6-7)

Nephi realizes that he may lack some perspective about what makes a piece of writing sacred and in erring, he may write things that are not so sacred while thinking it is sacred, or accidently leave out something sacred while thinking that it isn’t.  He also realizes there is a chance that his readers may not understand the sacredness of what he wants to share and may reject what he writes.

I think it is interesting that he notes that men of old made this same mistake.  That implies that after years of poring over the brass plates and the scriptures therein, he has formed certain opinions about the relative level of sacredness of various sections of the recorded text.  (Of course, if Nephi realizes he himself may err in his writing, he probably realizes that he may be setting at naught important parts of the brass plates somehow because of the weakness of his flesh.)

I think “weakness of the flesh” is a pretty good assessment of the problem.  Our poor mortal carcasses can only hear so much before the cognitive load becomes too great.  We sense more by our need to know than by any inherent holiness of the things themselves.  Principle 1 may be just as holy and sacred as principle 2, but because we desperately need principle 2, we ignore principle 1.  Just as an example, when I listen to general conference, I find myself more interested in the doctrines that address my needs and everything else seems less shiny and more “meh.”  Not that everything else really is “meh,” but the weakness of my flesh makes it seem so.   Sometimes I can sense that a talk has great significance, but I just can’t cognitively grasp what that is because I’m not spiritually ready for it.  (It’s a good thing the talks are put in the Ensign so I can study them.)

I like that Nephi does not spend much time dwelling on his weakness or worrying about it.  He simply does his best.  I suppose he has hope that the things he finds sacred will somehow find their way to those who need them, even if others are not yet spiritually receptive enough.

I think a lot of what I do for this blog is to search for the sacred things that previously I did not esteem as highly, study them to discover their significance, and then seek for ways to convey that sacredness so they can be appreciated as they deserve.  No doubt I still make mistakes at this because of the weakness of my flesh and it may be that I sometimes seem boring when words can’t capture what the Spirit can communicate in an instant, but I still hope to share something edifying.  I am so often encouraged by all the other wonderful blogs out there that share sacred things.  It is amazing that writing can do as well as it does to convey thoughts across time and space to someone else.