As I continue my verse-by-verse study of the Book of Mormon, I keep uncovering hidden "secrets" that most members of the Church or Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints seem to "hot-rod" over as they speed-read the founding scripture of their religion. I know, I am that strange Hebraic mumbler who wanders the wilderness edges of place and thought while decrying cultural orthodoxies more often than not. I find some solace that Joseph Smith, Russell Nelson, and Jesus the Messiah reveal themselves as being of the same ilk. Not bad company to have.
I have often read the terms "prosper" or "prosperity" in reference to the American continents and those who are righteous in the Book of Mormon and other scripture. There are also similar terms in my own patriarchal blessing. As a resident of this land and a person who wants the blessings of righteousness, the idea of prosperity is quite interesting to me! Just this last week, I read this passage from Helaman 12:2 -
Yea, and we may see at the very time when he doth prosper his people, yea, in the increase of their fields, their flocks and their herds, and in gold, and in silver, and in all manner of precious things of every kind and art; sparing their lives, and delivering them out of the hands of their enemies; softening the hearts of their enemies that they should not declare wars against them; yea, and in fine, doing all things for the welfare and happiness of his people; yea, then is the time that they do harden their hearts, and do forget the Lord their God, and do trample under their feet the Holy One—yea, and this because of their ease, and their exceedingly great prosperity.
Obedient speed-readers often count this as just another example of how the blessing of prosperity can turn to vanity and destruction. As I have highlighted above, I would point you instead to the less-obvious description of prosperity. Let me reveal something of cultural Mormonism to you and then the observation that occurs to me.
In the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, there is a blessing from every obedience. Among Mormons, this is usually painted in small and often cute ways. For instance, there is a commandment to pay a tithe to the Church. In return for this, payers anticipate blessings. Just recently, an adherent reported that her children's shoes seemed to have less wear than one would expect and she counted this as a small yet meaningful blessing that came from her faithful payment of the tithe. This is the sort of talk that pervades the Mormon experience.
I don't wish to discount small blessings, but the scriptures clearly state this in Malachi 3:10 -
Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
Does a small blessing like the stretched utility of shoes meet the promise of the Lord through Malachi? I hope not. If the windows of heaven open and that sort of blessing is bigger than the room available - God has tiny windows and we offer microscopic rooms! I am concerned that a cultural tradition of small faith results in cute and small blessings far below those described in scripture.
With that in mind, let us return to prosperity. There is gold and silver there. Precious Things. A lack of war, which is very desirable in these tempestuous days. Welfare and Happiness. Are you enjoying these blessings? If not, what exactly is the problem? If you are in north or south America, you are in the right location, so it must be your righteousness! I hope you don't fall into the trap that God doesn't trust you with riches - the Nephites in the Book of Mormon who constantly fell into vanity after God blessed them with prosperity certainly could not be trusted to use their riches wisely, *but they got the blessings of prosperity anyway!* I am no better, why am I not more prosperous? I must not be sufficiently righteous, at least compared with the Nephites.
I think all of us only merit small blessings because we only exhibit tiny faith and occasional righteousness. Apparently, this is all we expect and work toward. Imagine what we could have if we embraced righteousness more fully - but we don't have to imagine at all: the scriptures tells us what is possible!