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    Questions of general gospel interest answered for guidance, not as official statements of Church policy.

    I Have a Question

    How many languages has the Book of Mormon been translated into and how many copies have been distributed in the years since it was first printed?

    Allen E. Litster, administrator for established languages, Church Distribution and Translation Services Since the publication of the first five thousand copies in Palmyra, New York, in the spring of 1830, the Book of Mormon has been published in twenty-seven languages. Although it is now out of print in the Deseret Alphabet, Welsh, Hawaiian, Turkish, Czech, and Armenian, it is still available in English, Danish, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Swedish, Maori, Dutch, Samoan, Tahitian, Japanese, Portuguese, Tongan, Norwegian, Finnish, Rarotongan, Chinese, Korean, Afrikaans, Thai, and Indonesian, as well as in Braille.

    While the Book of Mormon is far from being the world’s most widely distributed book, its distribution is impressive. Since 1830, some 18 million copies have been printed throughout the world by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Additional copies have been printed by the Reorganized Church. In 1976 alone, approximately 1 million copies of the sacred record were made available in twenty-two languages.

    By comparison, the Bible (or selections therefrom) has been printed in more than 1,550 languages. More than 6 million copies of the complete Bible were distributed worldwide in 1975, in addition to some 300 million copies of portions of the Bible.

    Classifications and estimates vary, but there are approximately 3,500 languages spoken in today’s world. Approximately 114 of those languages are each spoken by more than 1 million people. The 22 languages in which the Book of Mormon is now in print make it available to some 40 percent of the world’s population.

    Translating the Book of Mormon is an enormous task requiring literally years of patient, prayerful effort. Not only does it require a clear, doctrinal understanding and the gift of both English and the target language, but some unique linguistic problems must also be faced. For example, while verbs in English and many other languages are used either in singular or plural form, several languages provide for singular, dual, and plural forms. When a translator comes to a statement such as: “And it came to pass that when I, Nephi, had spoken these words unto my brethren, they were angry with me” (1 Ne. 7:16), he must determine whether Nephi refers only to two of his brothers or to more than two. In some languages there is no equivalent for “brother” and it must be expressed as “younger brother” or “older brother.” The translator, for example, must somehow decide whether to refer to the brother of Jared as younger or older than Jared. Most of us have interpreted the word “betimes” as used in D&C 121:43 to mean “from time to time,” but a careful dictionary check reveals that in Joseph Smith’s day the word meant “at the moment.” These are only three simple examples of why it takes time to translate the Book of Mormon and other scriptures and why the translators and reviewers must be carefully guided by the Spirit.

    Not all editions of the Book of Mormon have been initially translated by official Church translators. In several instances Church members felt strongly motivated to help make the Book of Mormon available in their native languages and have spent years of their own time in its translation and then have unselfishly offered their manuscripts to the Church for whatever help they might be.

    In a few languages, translations have been made by people who were not Latter-day Saints, but whom the Lord inspired and guided to accomplish the work. For instance, the Afrikaans translation of the Book of Mormon was done by such a man, who was eminently qualified and highly recommended by local leaders. He commented that when he had difficulty with a given passage, he searched the Book of Mormon carefully in other languages for help. If that failed to produce something he could feel right about, his only recourse was to kneel and ask the Lord what the passage should say in his language. He said he was never disappointed.

    People often ask us what “new languages” we are translating the Book of Mormon into, or what language the Church will begin working on next. Such announcements are the prerogative of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve and will be made at the appropriate time and place. But this much is clear: the Book of Mormon “contains … the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ” (D&C 20:9); “the elders, priests and teachers of this church shall teach the principles of my gospel which are in … the Book of Mormon” (D&C 42:12); and in the latter days “every man shall hear the fulness of the gospel in his own tongue, and in his own language” (D&C 90:11). In the Lord’s own time and in his own way he will provide for the fulfillment of those promises to people of all tongues and all languages.

    Millions of people in scores of countries have read the Book of Mormon in dozens of languages and have received a powerful witness that it is true. Every person who earnestly reads and inquires can likewise receive that witness.

    [photo] The Thai translation of the Book of Mormon now makes that standard work readable to more than 35 million people who could not have read it before.

    Chronological dates are recorded at the bottom of the pages in the Book of Mormon. How reliable are these dates? Are there any that need to be corrected?

    Stan Larson, coordinator of standard works translation, Church Translation Services In a very real sense, the Book of Mormon has always had its own chronology. Built into its text are three different chronological dating systems: the years since Lehi left Jerusalem, the years of the judges, and the years since Christ’s birth. From our perspective today, it is convenient to convert all dates to years B.C. and A.D. This was first done in the large-size edition of 1888. In that edition the dates were placed in the margin next to the verse involved. The large-size edition was reprinted in 1906 with some modification of the dates. Then, starting in the 1920 edition, revised chronological dates were placed at the bottom of the page, and every page of the text (except Ether) had a date assigned. One real advantage to this system is that the reader can see immediately during what time period the events occurred, rather than have the dates interspersed throughout the text at only certain points.

    The Nephite year seems to have begun in the month we call April. (3 Ne. 8:5.) Thus, if a reference is made to “the commencement of the fourteenth year” (3 Ne. 2:17), that fourteenth year began in April of A.D. 14 and continued through March of A.D. 15. The same situation is found in B.C. dates, since the tenth year of the reign of the judges begins in 82 B.C. (Alma 8:3), but the tenth month of the same year is in 81 B.C. (Alma 14:23).

    Another fact that helps us to understand the chronological dates is the special meaning attached to the word about. Most of the time about means any time during the last nine months of the year mentioned and up to the first three months of the next year. Thus, a phrase such as “about B.C. 83” does not imply that it could be a few years on either side of this date, but rather indicates that the time of the events narrated fits somewhere in the period April 83 B.C. through March 82 B.C.

    The general rule is that the dates show the time period involved for the events narrated. However, there are certain cases that do not follow this pattern and perhaps need a little clarification. In 1 Nephi 9:2–5 [1 Ne. 9:2–5] information is related that apparently was not known until around 570 B.C. (2 Ne. 5:28–30), though the date on the page indicates “between B.C. 600 and 592.” Also, the Isaiah material in 2 Nephi, chapters 12 through 24, having the dates “between B.C. 559 and 545,” does not indicate either when Isaiah wrote these things or when they happened, but rather the approximate time during which Nephi copied them onto the Small Plates. [2 Ne. 12–24] The Words of Mormon [W of M 1] is dated “about A.D. 385,” but verses 12 through 18 discuss the early reign of King Benjamin, which ended in 124 B.C. Chapters eight and nine of Moroni present two of Mormon’s letters to his son and the dates “between A.D. 400 and 421” indicate the approximate time Moroni transcribed them onto the plates, since the letters must have originally been written sometime before the hill Cumorah battle of A.D. 385.

    It is the inspired translation of the Book of Mormon proper that is scripture, and the other things such as verse divisions, chapter summaries, cross-references, and chronological dates are additions intended to help the modern reader. These chronological dates at the bottom of the page may be helpful, but of course they are only as accurate as they properly reflect the information in the Book of Mormon text.

    There are a few difficulties with the present dates. Sometimes they are due to an error in arithmetic, such as thirty years having passed away making 569 B.C. instead of 570 B.C. (2 Ne. 5:28.) Another example is that Ammon left with his men in 121 B.C. (Mosiah 7:2–3), but the present dating indicates that they arrived back after rescuing Limhi and his people a year before they left (Mosiah 21:22)! Obviously the date for the latter event needs to be lowered at least one year. The events in Mosiah 23:25–24:25 must be dated at least 121 B.C., since the army that found Alma was the one that had been hunting for Ammon and Limhi (Mosiah 22:15–16; Mosiah 23:30, 35), and based on the information in Alma 17:6, the date of the departure of the sons of Mosiah should be changed to 91 B.C. (Mosiah 28:9). Also, since the events in Alma 36:1 to Alma 43:2 occurred in the eighteenth year of the judges they should be dated “about B.C. 74.”

    All of the dates in our present Book of Mormon represent the chronology as established by the Book of Mormon committee responsible for the 1920 edition.

    “What exactly does the word Lamanite mean?”

    Gordon C. Thomasson, Ph.D. candidate in education, development sociology, and Southeast Asian studies, Cornell University This is one of those questions which, at first glance, seems deceptively easy to answer. As soon as we examine the Book of Mormon text as a whole, however, it becomes clear that the answer to this question depends on many specifics with regard to time, place, and the individuals involved. At different times in history the word has had distinctly different meanings, and, like all labels, the word Lamanite should be used with extreme care, even when discussing Book of Mormon history.

    We first encounter a named division of Lehi’s New World colony in 2 Nephi 5:6. [2 Ne. 5:6] Here, Nephi lists those groups that departed with him into the wilderness and states that what they had in common was that, as a group, they were “those who believed in the warnings and the revelations of God.” These peoples decided “to call themselves the people of Nephi” (2 Ne. 5:9) and chose Nephi to be their king (see 2 Ne. 5:18). This procedure then became institutionalized, with subsequent kings being called Nephi by the people regardless of their given name (see Jacob 1:11), and those who were ruled by these kings being called Nephites (see Jacob 1:14; Mosiah 25:13), though these peoples did not always walk in the ways of the Lord. It appears that at times the Lamanites followed the same custom as the Nephites in naming their kings Laman, and naming themselves after their king. (See Mosiah 24:3.) The Nephite practice also seems to have been followed in describing the descendants of Mulek’s colony as the “people of Zarahemla,” since Zarahemla was their king. (Omni 1:14; Mosiah 25:2, 13.) This may be thought of as an imitation of the true pattern in which those who acknowledge Christ as their King become the people of Christ, taking upon themselves his name through baptism and Christian living.

    Jacob, while recognizing the many groups that made up Lehi’s colony, gave another definition to the name Lamanite (and Nephite) when he wrote, “I shall call them Lamanites that seek to destroy the people of Nephi.” (Jacob 1:13–14.)

    After a number of years, the original distinction between followers of Nephi (and of God) on the one hand, and of Laman on the other, breaks down. At times the term Lamanite seems to refer to what we might call nationality, on other occasions to ancestry, and at still other times to patterns of belief, life-styles, or conduct. Very early in their history we find a pattern developing in which dissenters from the Nephite group who joined the Lamanites either came to be called Lamanites or labeled themselves as Lamanites. Moreover, some Lamanites repented and came to be known (or numbered) among the Nephites. There seems to have been no solid barrier between the two groups, just as the Lord poses no obstacles to our repenting; and the text reflects a repeating flux of individuals and groups from one faction to the other.

    Taking the period of time around 74 B.C. as an example, the “people of Ammon” (the Anti-Nephi-Lehi group) were Lamanites who had repented, were residing within Nephite territory, and were members of the church. (See Alma 43:11–12.) They supported the Nephites in opposing their unconverted Lamanite brethren, who consisted of “a compound of Laman and Lemuel, and the sons of Ishmael, and all those who had dissented from the Nephites, who were Amalekites and Zoramites, and the descendants of the priests of Noah.” (Alma 43:13.)

    Speaking of the Nephites, Alma prophesied to his son Helaman that the time would come when those who were then “numbered among the people of Nephi, shall no more be numbered among the people of Nephi. But whosoever remaineth, and is not destroyed in that great and dreadful day, shall be numbered among the Lamanites” (Alma 45:13–14), in spite of their “Nephite” heritage.

    Being a Lamanite was, in some sense, a matter of choice. Some Gadianton robbers, who had entered into a covenant to keep the peace, for instance, were nevertheless “desirous to remain Lamanites.” (3 Ne. 6:3.) Other Lamanites were numbered with and became indistinguishable from the Nephites. (See 3 Ne. 2:12–16.) After the coming of Christ, all the people were converted to the gospel. (See 4 Ne. 1:2.) They lived as one people and were all known as the “people of Nephi” (4 Ne. 1:10); and they ceased to recognize any distinctions among themselves, so that not only were there no Lamanites, there were no “-ites” of any kind, “but they were in one, the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God” (4 Ne. 1:17). Only later, when apostasy set in, there arose “a small part of the people who had revolted from the church and taken upon them the name of Lamanites; therefore there began to be Lamanites again in the land.” (4 Ne. 1:20, 36–45; italics added.) We have no way of knowing the actual ancestry of these dissenters. The crucial fact is the course of action they took, not their genealogy. They are called Lamanites because they behaved in a particular way.

    Going back to the beginning of Nephite history, we find that the Lord spoke to Nephi and reminded him of the promises made to Nephi and Lehi that He would remember their seed, and that the “words of your seed [the Book of Mormon] should proceed forth out of my mouth unto your seed” (2 Ne. 29:2; italics added), just as it was to go to the descendants of Laman and Lemuel. Compare this promise with the revelation to Joseph Smith recorded in D&C 3:16–20 and with D&C 10:48. A remnant of the Nephites of Mormon’s time were not annihilated a number survived “who had dissented over unto the Lamanites.” (Morm. 6:15.)

    This discussion of the identities of peoples long dead might verge on the academic were it not for the fact that descendants of Book of Mormon peoples are alive today. We also know that other peoples, “led out of other countries by the hand of the Lord” (2 Ne. 1:5), have intermixed with the descendants of Lehi’s and Mulek’s colonies. Some of these peoples have come to be known to us as Lamanites. But that term, though it is accurate and applicable in many doctrinal contexts, is nevertheless genealogically accurate only by a certain definition—that is, if we define Lamanites as people who are at least in part “descendants of Book of Mormon peoples.”

    By another definition that is, by following Nephi’s statement that all those “who believed in the warnings and the revelations of God” were called Nephites (2 Ne. 5:6, 9)—we might well say that we have only Nephites in the Church today. Just as we consider a “gentile” who joins the Church to have become a member of the household of Israel, those who respond to the Book of Mormon’s message might be likened to the children (of Amulon and his brethren, the priests of Noah who had taken to wife the daughters of the Lamanites) who “were displeased with the conduct of their fathers, and they would no longer be called by the names of their fathers, therefore they took upon themselves the name of Nephi, that they might be called the children of Nephi and be numbered among those who were called Nephites.” (Mosiah 25:12.) But even this is not enough, of course, for we are all to strive toward that day when there are no -ites of any kind, and all are “in one, the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God.” (4 Ne. 1:17.)

    Other scriptures for study: 1 Ne. 13:30–31; 2 Ne. 29:13; Mosiah 23:35; Alma 3; Alma 43:4; Alma 47:35–36; Alma 50:21–22; Alma 63:14; Hel. 1:15; Hel. 3:16; Hel. 4:2–4; Hel. 5:50–52; Hel. 6:1; Hel. 11:24; 3 Ne. 1:28–29; 3 Ne. 5:20 (compare Morm. 1:5); 3 Ne. 10:18; Moro. 1:2.

    We have been told that pride is one of the “seven deadly sins” (see Prov. 6:16–19) and also that all the proud will be destroyed when the Lord comes (see Mal. 4:1). But we are also told to take pride in our work, in our appearance, in our homes, and in our heritage. How should we view pride?

    Irene Bates, teacher development instructor, Pacific Palisades Ward, and stake cultural refinement leader, Santa Monica California Stake Because we tend to use words loosely, meanings get confused, and this is particularly troublesome when we talk of pride. In the positive sense, pride means self-respect. Used negatively, it becomes self-centeredness. Self-respect is sustained by an inner reservoir (the beginnings of which are developed by favorable interaction with parents and others), while pride seeks only external gratifications.

    In its deepest manifestation, self-respect is the recognition that we are the children of God—and valued by him; pride in its most extreme form relies only upon success, prestige, and material rewards to confirm one’s feelings of personal worth. Self-respect frees us to think of others; pride chains us to self. Self-respect allows enrichment and expansion of the spirit; pride thrives only in poverty of the spirit—and because of this it can devour the soul.

    In the Book of Mormon there are many instances that illustrate only too clearly the dangers of pride, even within the Church. When Alma took his sons, Shiblon and Corianton, to preach the word of God to the Zoramites, he was not on a mission to unbelievers. He was attempting to bring back the truth in all its purity to those who had been diverted in their worship by the desire for wealth and pride of position. “Behold, O God, they cry unto thee, and yet their hearts are swallowed up in their pride.” (Alma 31:27.) They had cast out the poor from their churches “because of the coarseness of their apparel.” (Alma 32:2.)

    Nephi and Lehi, the sons of Helaman, together with Moronihah, had to contend with the pride of the Nephites “among those … who professed to belong to the church of God.” (Hel. 4:11.) They had become very rich and proud, oppressing the poor, denying the hungry and the naked, and “smiting their humble brethren upon the cheek.” (Hel. 4:12.)

    The son of Nephi, in his account of his people, says of them at one time, “They had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift.” (4 Ne. 1:3.) For a period of more than 150 years “there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people.” (4 Ne. 1:15.) As they became prosperous, however, they began to seek greater status, to divide into classes, to build churches for gain, and to deny the truths by which they had previously lived.

    This is such a common pattern in the history of Christianity that, although it may be difficult to understand how such radical change can occur in a once-righteous people, we tend to see it as simply part of a long, insidious process, with people gradually being seduced by the riches and temptations of the world. But perhaps there is another way of looking at it. Instead of seeing pride only as evidence of arrogance, self-sufficiency, and worldly greed, we might be more accurate to understand it as indicative of spiritual poverty—a deep longing to experience a feeling of worth.

    Sometimes in our natural preoccupation with the challenge of earning a living (coupled with the satisfactions of material rewards), or perhaps in our desire to create a beautiful home, or even in our righteous determination to magnify a Church calling, we may get carried along in our enthusiasm and ambition and forget that these things are simply a means to an end. As soon as they become our goals, we are failing to recognize what is most important to the Lord—the happiness and well-being of his children. As we cease to be in harmony with the purpose of God in this sense, some quite unintended consequences catch us unawares. We cannot devalue other people without robbing ourselves too, and so we become enmeshed, almost without realizing it, in a changed value system in which people gradually become less and less important in our hearts and minds. Inescapably we exchange a little of our own self-respect at that time for what Isaiah calls the “fading flower” of pride. (Isa. 28:1.)

    It may well be that the beginning of pride among the saints of the Book of Mormon could be traced to that moment when they began to have less time for each other, less appreciation, and less love. Without the feeling of intrinsic worth, man becomes defenseless and insecure, dependent upon external evidences of personal value. The spirit stands naked and vulnerable and in need of constant reassurance, and because material things can seldom satisfy the spirit, the need becomes insatiable. Pride then becomes the taskmaster of the impoverished soul.

    How can we avoid or escape this “snare of the soul” (see D&C 90:17) that ends by robbing us of our self-respect? True humility cannot rest in simply thinking little of ourselves. Does it not rather depend upon our capacity to appreciate and value other human beings, whoever they might be? Jesus Christ lived, suffered, and died for every one of God’s children. If we could contemplate that for a few moments in each day of our busy lives, we might be helped immeasurably to avoid the pitfall of pride. When blessed with abundance we might then long to share our plenty. When achieving some great purpose, we might feel overwhelming gratitude for opportunities to develop God-given talents (and maybe desire to help others enjoy similar chances). When vast reservoirs of knowledge unfold to us, we might feel reverence for truth wherever it is found, together with a humble awareness of the infinitude of knowledge, instead of denying the validity of other men’s thoughts—a closed-mindedness born of fear, which is only another form of pride.

    Pride cannot exist where there is true self-respect. It cannot exist when there is a closeness to the Lord. Pride is evidence of a deep spiritual hunger that can be satisfied only by loving as Jesus loved, unconditionally, and by discovering the truth of his promise that “he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35.)

    How is it possible for a whole society to be righteous? Can we in the Church become such a righteous society?

    Max Waters, professor of business education, Brigham Young University We know of three times in the earth’s history when a Zion society existed—or will exist—on the earth. The first was Enoch’s Zion: “And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them.” (Moses 7:18.) The second time was with the residue of Lehi’s descendants after Christ’s visit to America: “The people were all converted unto the Lord, upon all the face of the land, both Nephites and Lamanites, and there were no contentions and disputations among them, and every man did deal justly one with another.

    “And they had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift.” (4 Ne. 1:2–3)

    The third time such a society will exist will be during the Millennium, when peace and righteousness will prevail throughout the world. However, prophecies seem to indicate that the development of this Zion society will immediately precede the Millennium: “The glory of the Lord shall be there, and the terror of the Lord also shall be there, insomuch that the wicked will not come unto it, and it shall be called Zion. …

    “It shall be the only people that shall not be at war one with another.” (D&C 45:67, 69.)

    What are the basic elements of a Zion society? Although the characteristics are simple enough to list, rarely has a large group of people been found who could live them!

    First, a Zion society is entirely at peace among its members: Enoch’s Zion was made up of people who “were of one heart and one mind”; the righteous society among the descendants of Lehi had “no contentions and disputations among them”; and the latter-day Zion will be “the only people that shall not be at war one with another.”

    Second, a Zion society is utterly committed to obeying the commandments of the Lord: Enoch’s people “dwelt in righteousness”; the perfect society in America, “as many as did come unto them, did truly repent of their sins. … They did walk after the commandments which they had received from their Lord and their God” (4 Ne. 1:1, 12); and the modern Zion will be made up of “the righteous,” who “shall be gathered out from among all nations, and shall come to Zion, singing with songs of everlasting joy” (D&C 45:71).

    Third, a Zion society is not divided into rich and poor: in Enoch’s day the Lord called his people Zion in part because “there was no poor among them”; likewise, in ancient America “they had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor”; and in the early Latter-day Saints’ attempt to establish Zion the Lord attributed their failure in part to the fact that “they have not learned to be obedient to the things which I required at their hands, but are full of all manner of evil, and do not impart of their substance, as becometh saints, to the poor and afflicted among them; …

    “And Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom.” (D&C 105:3, 5.)

    There are doubtless other essentials of Zion societies, but the above three points are clearly stated by the Lord: Zion people dwell with each other without contention; they obey the commandments of the Lord; and they have all things in common, sharing of their substance with the poor.

    Throughout history, the majority of the people of the world have not lived according to this pattern. Mankind seems to go from war to war, while civil law seems to be man’s constant attempt to settle contention between neighbors. The term world has become synonymous with wickedness, with extremes of wealth and poverty being universal among human societies. The few times when a Zion has existed on the earth the righteous were isolated and kept safe from the hostility of the wicked by the “terror of the Lord” (D&C 45:67; see also Moses 7:17) or by the oceans separating the descendants of Lehi from the Old World, or by destruction that left only “the more righteous part of the people.” (3 Ne. 10:12.) Only during the Millennium will righteousness be universal, and then only after the wicked are “hewn down and cast into the fire” (D&C 45:57), leaving the righteous to receive the earth “for an inheritance; and they shall multiply and wax strong, and their children shall grow up without sin unto salvation” (D&C 45:58).

    A whole society can be righteous only as long as all the people who dwell in it want to be righteous. Obviously, those who do not want to be part of a Zion society will not join it—or will leave it, if they cannot abide its law (which is, essentially, to love the Lord and to serve him). When a righteous society ceases to obey the law, it is no longer a Zion—which is what happened to the ancient American people: after nearly 170 years, some of the people “were lifted up in pride. … And from that time forth they did have their goods and their substance no more common among them.

    “And they began to be divided into classes.” (4 Ne. 1:24–26.)

    When a people choose to live the law of the celestial kingdom, the Lord pours out great gifts upon them: in Enoch’s Zion “the Lord blessed the land, and they were blessed upon the mountains, and upon the high places, and did flourish” (Moses 7:17), and in fact Enoch’s Zion was so righteous that “the Lord came and dwelt with his people,” and the Lord said to Enoch, referring to Zion after it had been taken up, “Behold mine abode forever” (Moses 7:16, 21).

    The righteous society in ancient America was blessed constantly by great miracles wrought by the Lord’s disciples, and they “were blessed according to the multitude of the promises which the Lord had made unto them. … For the Lord did bless them in all their doings.” (4 Ne. 1:11, 18.)

    Of the latter-day Zion the scriptures promise, “the glory of the Lord shall be there” (D&C 45:67), and during the Millennium “the Lord shall be in their midst, and his glory shall be upon them, and he will be their king and their lawgiver” (D&C 45:59).

    Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that the Lord has never created a Zion society from nothing: Zion societies only come when a whole group of people heed the call to repentance—the same call that the Lord has always given to all people—and persist in their righteousness. We children of our Father in heaven cannot wait for Zion to be bestowed on us as a gift: we must prepare ourselves to be a Zion by learning to live the “law of the celestial kingdom”; unless the Lord’s people does this, the Lord says, “I cannot receive her unto myself.” (D&C 105:5.)

    The place to start preparing for such a society is in our own hearts, in our own homes, among our own neighbors, becoming pure in heart so that the Lord can say of us as he said of Enoch’s Zion: “And Enoch and all his people walked with God, and he dwelt in the midst of Zion.” (Moses 7:69.)

    [illustration] When Christ came to America he established one of the three “Zion societies” of which we are aware. (Painting by Ron Crosby.)