“Life as a Probation”

“Life as a Probation” July 22, 2023


Cokeville Miracle movie poster
Official film poster for T. C. Christensen’s 2015 film “The Cokeville Miracle”
(Wikimedia Commons fair use)


I’m late in calling attention to it — for the perfectly valid reason that I had no Internet access over roughly the past thirty hours, either because I was on the road between Orem, Utah, and Cokeville, Wyoming, or because I was in a location in Cokeville without access to WiFi.  But I published an article in Meridian Magazine yesterday that some might find perhaps only slightly objectionable:  “Why Pioneer Day is a Celebration for Church Members Across the World”

And these two new items went up yesterday, also unremarked by me for exactly the same reason, on the website of the Interpreter Foundation:

“The Nephite Metaphor of Life as a Probation: Rethinking Nephi’s Portrayal of Laman and Lemuel,” written by Noel B. Reynolds

Abstract: Commentaries on Nephi’s first book tend to interpret the fraternal struggles it reports as historical facts that are meant primarily to invite readers’ evaluative responses. While recognizing the historical character of the facts marshalled by Nephi, this paper will argue that the author transposes that history into an allegory meant to inspire his readers in all times and places to abandon prevailing metaphors of life that are focused on the attainment of worldly goods and pleasures. In their place, Nephi offers the revealed metaphor of life as a day of probation taught to him and his father in their great visions. God’s plan of salvation revealed to them made it clear that the welfare of each human being for eternity would be determined by a divine judgment on how effectively their lives had been transformed by their adherence to the gospel of Jesus Christ in mortality. The message of 1 Nephi is that all men and women are invited to let the Spirit of the Lord soften their hearts and lead them into his covenant path wherein he can prepare them to enter into his presence at the end.

“Interpreting Interpreter: Nephi’s Probation,” written by Kyler Rasmussen

This post is a summary of the article “The Nephite Metaphor of Life as a Probation: Rethinking Nephi’s Portrayal of Laman and Lemuel” by Noel B. Reynolds in Volume 57 of Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship. An introduction to the Interpreting Interpreter series is available at https://interpreterfoundation.org/interpreting-interpreter-on-abstracting-thought/.

The Takeaway:  Reynolds reflects on Nephi’s described relationship with his brothers, and concludes that the purpose of his descriptions are spiritual (as well as historical), with Nephi’s family struggles meant as an allegory contrasting a worldly life with a life of adherence to Christ. This allegory hinges on the metaphor of life as a day of probation, where we are judged on how well we have been transformed by the gospel of Christ.


Sent by Scott Gordon
And, speaking once again of life as a probation:  The patently obvious reasoning behind making me the opening speaker at FAIR rather than the concluding speaker is so that the trajectory of the three-day conference would be plainly upward rather than, as in previously, plunging suddenly and precipitously at the end.  It’s a test, a kind of scientific experiment, but I’m quite confident that it will work.


Finally, I hope that my friend Scott Gordon, the president of FAIR, won’t mind my passing this on to you verbatim.  I’m pretty sure that he wants to get the news out:

Come to the 2023 FAIR Conference!

We’re in the final week of ticket sales for the 2023 FAIR Conference – the last day to buy in-person tickets is Friday, July 28. If you’ve been considering attending in person but haven’t been able to decide whether to come or not, we want to help you make the leap!

The important details about the 2023 FAIR Conference:

When: August 2-4, 2023

Where: The Experience Event Center, Provo, Utah

How much: $150 – but there are discounts available for various groups, so please ask!

What’s included: meeting authors and presenters, access to new books and swag, a silent auction, an exclusive panel discussion, a chance to meet FAIR’s board and our sponsors in person, and displays of both art and rare books. Oh, and lunch is also provided!

Consider this, too –

Attending a conference where Jenet Erickson, John W. Welch, and Jennifer Roach are speaking is a remarkable opportunity due to the unique perspectives and expertise they bring to their respective presentations.

Jenet Erickson’s presentation on “For the Strength of Youth: Moving from Compliance and Defiance to Integrity in Covenant Relationship” offers valuable insights into fostering strong family bonds and ethical behavior within the youth. As an associate professor in Religious Education and a columnist on family issues, her research and experience will provide attendees with practical strategies to strengthen family relationships and create a positive impact on the youth. That couldn’t be more timely!

John W. Welch’s presentation on “The Seven Seals in the Apocalypse of John: Possible Cultural, Legal, and Imperial Contexts” promises to uncover new interpretations of the Book of Revelation. As a prominent figure in biblical studies and LDS scholarship, Jack’s discoveries and advances provide a unique perspective on understanding ancient religious texts, enabling attendees to gain deeper insights into their historical and cultural contexts. (and if we’re lucky, he’ll tell us about his mission in Hawaii!)

Jennifer Roach’s presentation on “Shedding Light on the Complexities: Understanding Abuse within the LDS Church” addresses a sensitive and crucial issue. With her background in Counseling Psychology and Theology, she offers a comprehensive understanding of the complexities surrounding abuse and the LDS Church. Attendees will gain awareness of this challenging topic, learning how to create a safer and more supportive environment for victims within their religious communities.

By attending this conference and engaging with just these three speakers, you will have the opportunity to engage with leading experts in religious education, biblical studies, and mental health therapy. Imagine how much these diverse perspectives will enrich your knowledge and equip you with practical tools to address real-world challenges within your own ward and community! And that’s not all – networking opportunities with like-minded individuals and professionals in various fields can lead to friendships and collaborative efforts. How much positive change and enhancing the overall well-being of individuals and families within your reach will YOU be able to promote, just because you attended the 2023 FAIR Conference?

There’s one way to find out!



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