Honoring the Book of Mormon after 180 years
by Shirley R. Heater
March 26, 2010, marked the 180th anniversary of the publication of The Book of Mormon—a day which passed quietly by, unnoticed by most. In 2009 the world honored Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday and the 150th anniversary of publication of Origin of the Species with television specials, conferences, exhibits, publications and special projects for school children.
But what of The Book of Mormon’s landmark occasion? For many the realization that 180 years have passed is startling! The last few years have been fraught with challenges in many areas with people worldwide—health, family, personal, spiritual and economic. Sadly, life’s difficulties for some can bring an overall trend toward less scripture reading and decreased spirituality in our lives.
My challenge to all of us, as caretakers and beneficiaries of this great gift, is to evaluate our commitment to The Book of Mormon. Let’s consider ways in which we can all honor this miracle book that we have, written as directed by God, preserved by His hand, given to a young, unschooled farm boy, and translated by the gift and power of God. There is no other book like it! And throughout the coming year, we have the opportunity to raise the banner in whatever circles we are in—like Chief Captain Moroni’s Title of Liberty, remembering our God, our religion and freedom, our peace and our families.
Here are some suggestions:
• First, make sure your Book of Mormon is close at hand—not on a bookshelf or gathering dust in a closet, but where you can read it daily and commit to reading some each day.
• Share your own personal testimony of The Book of Mormon, or pray according to Moroni 10:4-5 that you might receive such a testimony.
• Reflect and consider why this book is important to you and your family and in God’s grand scheme of things.
• Remind children of the “birthday” of the first printing.
• I encourage you to be creative and think of ways to make this 180th year significant—not just for this coming year only, but with a renewed commitment!
Happy 180th Birthday Book of Mormon!
Shirley R Heater was born and raised in the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (now known as Community of Christ, with headquarters in Independence, Missouri) and currently attends the Church of Jesus Christ, Oak Grove Restoration Branch. She received an archaeology degree in 1982 and worked fifteen years for Zarahemla Research Foundation, an organization much like FARMS. Projects included completing a comparison of Book of Mormon manuscripts and editions, the 1999 Restored Covenant Edition, as well as First Nephi Study Book Mormon, and numerous research projects and articles along the way. In 2004 she was instrumental in organizing and now serves as Director of the Quetzal Archaeology Center for Mesoamerican Research (www.quetzalarchaeology.org), a nonprofit scientific and educational research organization organized primarily to promote the Book of Mormon; interpret Mesoamerican archaeology, hieroglyphs and linguistics, radiocarbon dating, transoceanic contact, history of coming forth, manuscripts, internal language and structure, as well as Biblical research and correlation including the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the growing together of The Book of Mormon and the Bible.
Shirley, and other scholars associated with the Quetzal Archaeology Center for Mesoamerican Research, have had a long, mutually enriching relationship with Book of Mormon Archaeology Forum (BMAF), Ancient America Foundation (AAF) and other LDS groups and have attended some of their past conferences. BMAF plans to continue its dialogue with Quetzal Archaeology Center for Mesoamerican Research and occasionally feature some of its excellent research on its website (www.bmaf.org).