Gerald (Rameumptom) Smith is a student of the gospel. Joining the Church of Jesus Christ when he was 16, he served a mission in Santa Cruz Bolivia (1978=1980). He is married to Ramona, has 3 stepchildren and 7 grandchildren. Retired Air Force (Aim High!). He has been on the Internet since 1986 when only colleges and military were online. Gerald has defended the gospel since the 1980s, and was on the first Latter-Day Saint email lists, including the late Bill Hamblin's Morm-Ant. Gerald has worked with FairMormon, More Good Foundation, LDS.Net and other pro-LDS online groups. He has blogged on the scriptures for over a decade at his site: Joel's Monastery
(joelsmonastery.blogspot.com). He has the following degrees: AAS Computer Management, BS Resource Mgmt, MA Teaching/History.
Gerald was the leader for the Tuskegee Alabama group, prior to it becoming a branch. He opened the door for missionary work to African Americans in Montgomery Alabama in the 1980s. He's served in two bishoprics, stake clerk, high council, HP group leader and several other callings over the years. While on his mission, he served as a counselor in a branch Relief Society presidency.
Excerpt: “In his book, “An Other Testament”, Joseph Spencer explains the gradual deterioration of both Nephite politics and religion. Beginning with the second Nephite king after Nephi, we find that issues of pride and sexual conquest become issues of religion and possibly politics, as it reflects the problems we later find with King Noah and his priests.
“Nephite politics began with descendants of Nephi as the kings of the nation. When King Mosiah II encountered Zarahemla and the Mulekites, major changes entered into the story. Mosiah finds there are now others who claim the right to rule, such as Mulekites descending from King David and the Jaredite remnants among them descending from Jared. “Mosiah saw the need to change the government to judges. “
The Ammonites, those Lamanite converts that swore to never take up weapons of war again, were ready to break their covenant of peace, in order to help rescue the Nephites. The prophet Helaman, however, would not have them break their covenant. Instead, a different solution was brought forth. The children had not made the oath to bury their weapons of war.
Note here that the Ammonites could not really be called pacifists, as they are willing to recognize the necessity of arms to defend oneself and home, nor had they taught their children to refuse to fight. But their covenant was instituted for a higher and different purpose.
Book Review: Jacob – a brief theological introduction, by Deidre Nicole Green. Published by Maxwell Institute. This is the third book in a series that is covering each of the books in the Book of Mormon. The series is an attempt to share basic, but key, theological ideas with the average Latter-day Saint reader. My first two reviews can be found here: 1 Nephi, 2 Nephi.
Diedre Nicole Green earned a PhD in Religion at Claremont Graduate University, Master of Arts in Religion from Yale Divinity School, and a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from BYU.
Review: The Book of Jacob fills less than 19 pages of the Book of Mormon. So how can one write a 120 page book on so little, and provide so much to think about? That is one of the strengths of studying theology – the study of God. It is easy to skim quickly through this short book, and get a little understanding of what is going on. Green shows us how the various, seemingly disparate, teachings and events in the Book of Jacob and his previous teachings and experiences all connect.
Excerpt: “As we discuss these war chapters, ask yourself why the great author Mormon felt it necessary to include so much violence and bloodshed in the Book of Mormon. What do we learn from the many war stories and events? What are the dangers of war? What leads to war? What are the appropriate feelings towards one’s enemies we should have? How do we prepare for war, and more importantly, how do we prepare for peace?”
Discussess Alma’s final words and blessings to his sons Helaman and Shiblon. Here’s a sample:
Helaman is the oldest son of Alma. His name may be a form of Egyptian for “Her Amun – In the Presence of Amun” or “In the Presence of God.” The Semitic letter “L” is made into an “R” in Egyptian, so Helaman and Her Amun are cognate names. Vowels were not used in the earliest Semitic languages, so Ammon could also be spelled Aman, Amon, or Amun. Amun Re was the chief god of the Egyptians, while Alma’s close friend, Ammon, was the chief leader of the Ammonites. It seems fitting to name his oldest son after his friend, Ammon. Helaman’s name is also important as we discuss chapter 36, when Alma himself is in the presence of God, perhaps naming his oldest after this experience.