My stake in Colorado has asked everybody — but especially teenagers — to read the Book of Mormon by the end of the school year. The stake estimates that if every member of the stake reads the book 5-10 minutes a day, they will finish by May. The plan is to then send a letter to President Monson — signed by the members of our stake — giving our testimony as to the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.
Last night the stake held a youth fireside attended by hundreds of my stake’s young men and women in which they were given the Book of Mormon challenge. Some responded by saying they will finish the Book of Mormon in a month, easy, others seemed overwhelmed by the prospect of reading a 500-plus page book at all.
The second counselor in the stake presidency read letters from missionaries urging the youth to read the Book of Mormon before leaving on their missions. Apparently, they are still many missionaries being sent out who have never read the Book of Mormon, which I find astonishing.
I think sometimes we do a poor job of articulating to our young men and young women why they should read the Book of Mormon. We sometimes seem to take the “mystical” approach — if you read the Book of Mormon you will have a mysterious, inexplicable response. But what happens if you read the Book of Mormon and you don’t have that experience?
On the other hand, we can’t expect members to uniformly respond to the purely logical approach either. I read the Book of Mormon again and again because I find the stories heartening and faith-promoting (who can’t cheer on Abinadi or Capt. Moroni, for example?) but also to remind myself that the greatest triumph of the Book of Mormon is its very existence. I think members need to be reminded that it is not logical to suppose that Joseph Smith wrote the book in a little more than two months by himself, so we must be reminded that God must have been involved in the process somehow. But I also realize that this purely logical approach doesn’t work for many young people either. Logic dictates a lot of things that teenage brains have not yet understood.
It seems to me the magic of the Book of Mormon for those who read it is the combination of the two — the mystical and the logical. Some of us, like myself, never get washed by the Spirit as Moroni 10:3-5 promises — but others do, and their testimonies are truly inspiring. Others like myself need to be reminded again and again of the importance of our time and the earth-shattering role of the Book of Mormon in gathering in the House of Israel.
So, in the end, our stake presidency is right on in asking the members to read the Book of Mormon, either for the first time or the twentieth. Something good is likely to happen.