Today I started the Book of Mormon. As in the book that comes right after 4th Nephi, not the entire set of scripture. Is it just me, or is that one of the most depressing places to be in all the Book of Mormon (the set of scripture, not the individual book)? It's the start of a whole lot of war chapters, but unlike the awesome war chapters in Alma where you have super cool heroes and spiritual giants like Captain Moroni, Lehi, Teancum and the stripling warriors, lots of great strategem and evil bad guys who get defeated in the end, the beginning of the story of the complete downfall and destruction of the Nephite nation is just depressing. While every one would love to be a Captain Moroni, a brave, victorious, causing the very foundations of hell to shake sort of guy, I never hear anyone comment about their desire to be Captain Mormon. He was, I'm sure, just as brave, just as spiritual, just as talented a warrior. But oh the heartbreak he must have had. Oh the horrors he must have seen. To watch your entire people destroyed, knowing only your son will survive long enough to bury your records, records you would have stared out compiling hoping it would bring your people back to their God, but now realizing your own people will never repent and turn back but will willfully continue towards their own destruction. Your hard work of compiling records is now for the sake of your greatest enemies, that maybe one day, hundreds of years in the future, they may change their hearts and come unto God. But as I was reading the first chapter in Mormon today, a phrase stuck out to me. "Thou art a sober child, and thou art quick to observe." Usually when I hear that phrase, I concentrate on the "quick to observe" part, mostly because I have never really understood what it means to be sober. Ironically, the past couple weeks I actually have made it a goal to be quick to observe, quick to observe the needs of others and provide service. It seemed like every single message of this past General Conference was about that subject, and I knew I needed to improve. But despite every good intention, I feel I have never been so slow to observe in my life. And this is why: Merlin.
The BBC TV show Merlin has become my latest obsession. I cannot get enough of it. I usually have time every evening to watch one episode, but this TV show is so addicting that even though I don't watch more than one episode, I spend the entire rest of the day thinking about the next episode, and what's going to happen, whether or not someone will find out that Merlin really is magical, whether Morgana will finally go evil or not, whether Arthur will some how mess up his secret courting of Guinevere or not, etc., etc. I'm of course mostly enthralled with the adorable love story between Arthur and Gwen. But I digress.
Realizing that this obsession was conflicting with my ability to observe, yet not actually becoming willing enough to remove the temptation from my life, I asked God that if I was going to spend my time thinking about this show, at least could I gain some sort of increased knowledge or understanding of some gospel principle through the stories of continuous battles of good vs. evil in this show. Well, if ye ask, ye shall receive.
So, back to the phrase I read this morning, about being sober and quick to observe. This time the Holy Ghost said: "Forget the quick to observe part. You can't quite handle that part right now. Let's focus on being sober." And my response, of course: "What the heezy does sober mean?" Dictionary.com states that sober means "not given to excessive indulgence in drink or any other activity; sedate or rational; free from exaggeration." Alma also mentions to his son Shiblon to be sober, and uses other phrases like "bridle your passions...be diligent and temperate in all things...use boldness..." While pondering all of these various words and phrases and trying to imagine what this actually looks like in someone, I realized that they were all good descriptors of Prince Arthur in the TV show. He of course isn't always serious, he takes time to laugh and joke, but when he is doing his duties as prince, or acting under the orders of his father the king, these words describe him perfectly. He knows his duty, and cannot be persuaded from it. He doesn't let his emotions get in the way of fulfilling his responsibilities. Even when he doesn't understand why his father would ask him to do something, he trusts his father enough to give something a try. And, as is often the case with King Uther, when his father is in fact very wrong, Arthur has the courage to stand up for what is right. But even in these situations, he is humble. He is bold in his decision, but still shows his father honor. Arthur also spends a large chunk of time every day training. He's already proven himself the best knight in the kingdom, but he still realizes the importance of being diligent in preparation. I can learn so much about what it means to be faithful in fulfilling your duty from Prince Arthur.
Another good example that I've been learning from in this show is the example of Gwen. The TV show made a little twist with her character. She starts off as a servant girl to the Lady Morgana in the castle. At the point in the TV show where I am at now, Arthur has made his affections very clear to Gwen, even telling her that perhaps one day when he is king he will be able to change the rules and they will be able to marry and she could become queen. But even with this kind of knowledge, Gwen is still very humble and knows her place in the castle. She doesn't boast or brag that one of the most powerful men in the land is in love with her, but she continues to serve and do her menial day to day tasks, all with a kind and grateful attitude. Her's is definitely and example that I need to learn from!