Today, I’m remembering the family friend from a Latter-day Saint congregation I grew up in who heard me in a church settng quote some scripture on the need for the rich to give to the poor and then took me aside to ask how liberal my school friends were and give me some cautionary advice.

the Book of Moses and the subjectivity of scripture

One of the more interesting passages of scripture produced by Joseph Smith Jr. is in Section 36 of the Community of Christ Doctrine and Covenants (or the Book of Moses in the Latter-day Saint Pearl of Great Price): And it came to pass that the God of heaven looked upon the residee of the people, and he wept, and Enoch bore record of it, saying, How is it the heavens weeps and shed forth their tears as the rain upon the mountains?

on reading scripture with an agenda

I grew up in a faith tradition that put a huge amount of emphasis on the King James Version of the Bible. It was only four years ago (in the early phases of my faith transition), that I deliberately picked up another translation to read instead. Even then, I picked a relatively “safe” transition to venture into: Thomas Wayment’s The New Testament: A Translation for Latter-day Saints. Since it was co-published by Deseret Book and BYU, it had some tacit approval from Latter-day Saint institutions, even if The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints itself still identifies the KJV as its official English language text.

Growing up, I was taught to graze at religious texts, focusing on anecdotes that supported what we already believed. One of the great pleasures of my adulthood has been learning to read them more critically: wrestling with their problems and learning deeper lessons.