Sunday, August 1, 2010

BOMT: My Study System--The Seven S's

I realize that our approach to scripture study is highly individual, but I think we can all learn from each other's process. This outline, the Seven S's, is an outline that was essentially handed to me by the Lord when I started teaching Gospel Doctrine. Throughout this blog I often break down my comments into one of these seven steps. (Much of this is also similar to what I presented at the Sunstone Symposium a couple of years ago.)

In terms of my approach to Book of Mormon Therapy specifically, I would add that buying a new set of scriptures works well for me (I just choose the cheap paperbacks from Church Distribution) so I'm literally working from a blank slate, open to new insights and fresh ideas. I also approach this study with my own weaknesses in mind, and "how can I do or become better?" (therapy) as my guiding focus. I recommend that everyone delve into the Book of Mormon daily if possible, and at your own spirit-guided pace.

Sometimes I'll read an individual passage up to five times, first for story, then for skeleton, etc. Other times it's more intuitive and I'll go with whatever's most salient at the moment.

Please feel free to ask questions if something's not clear. It is, after all, just an outline, from which if I were teaching a class I would elaborate with lots and lots of concrete examples.

Making the Scriptures come Alive With Meaning

1. Start with Story: (Particularly Storytelling)
The Brother of Jared, Zeniff, Jonah, Shadrach, Joshua...I have hundreds of favorites.
(We're not talking puppet shows and flannel boards. More like channeling all the richness and truth from your preparation and feeding it to your class in story form.)

Becomes a vehicle for:
a. Sequence (putting things in a historical context)
b. Scenario (setting the stage)
c. Symbolism (can be brought out subtly within the story)
d. Substance (helping your students feel the richness of the text, sense something deeper)
e. Spirit (Let the Holy Ghost connect the dots)

Note: Storytelling is especially helpful in class situations where the preparation of individual class members is varied. Telling the story helps put everybody on the same page before you begin your discussion.

Note 2: Frequently when teaching a scripture passage with limited story potential I will tell a personal story that is analogous to the principles we're discussing. This helps pull the class into the discussion, and helps with Synthesis later on.

2. Sketch the Skeleton (Boiling the events down to the bare bones -- simple subject/verb. Ask: What is happening here and why?)

Great texts to do this with are:
a. Road to Emmaus (They talk of Christ, He draws near...etc.)
-- becomes a powerful example of how to gain a testimony.
b. Calming the storm (Storm arises, they are frightened...etc.)
-- becomes a great lesson on adversity and seeking peace.
c. Joseph Smith’s first vision account (He is confused, he studies the Bible, he prays, etc.) -- another great pattern regarding knowledge, testimony

This skeletal process makes it easy to perceive and pick out patterns that we can then apply to our own experience.

3. Single out Specifics (individual words, phrases, patterns, or one particular verse)
Some examples:
a. “Press” implies resistance; “Succor”: 1828 definition is “Run to their aid”
b. The repetition of the word “Remember” repeated in Alma 5 and Helaman 5
c. 40 Questions in Alma 5
d. Examples of action verbs in Mary/Martha/Lazarus story
e. Mentions of anger/wrath in Zeniff/King Laman story
f. The mention of Desires repeated in D&C Section 6 (We choose)

4. Study the Symbols
The specific objects used to illustrate a point (and sometimes we need to hunt for these) can often open up rich reservoirs of understanding.

Consider: Animals, Coins(money), Everyday Chores, Nature and Growth, as well as the more elusive and poetic symbols such as Isaiah uses.

5. Strive for Synthesis
This is where I ask for lots of class participation and focus on practical application:
a. Likening (See yourself, replace names, etc.)
b. Modern-day equivalent: (Broken bow = job loss)
c. How does this apply to me right now?
d. What am I going to take home and do differently?

6. See the Savior (If we seek Him, we shall find Him)
He is everywhere within the scriptures, if we look carefully, with spiritual eyes.
a. Search for Types of Christ
b. Seek his teachings
c. Look for opportunities to testify
d. Notice how many first-hand witnesses there are of the Savior, especially in the Book of Mormon

7. And of course, in and around and throughout all of these steps it is essential to Sense the Spirit.

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