Today is October 1st, and it’s your opportunity to join in a new online “Hinckley Challenge“! The Challenge website was designed in honor of an historic challenge that President Gordon B. Hinckley gave the world in August 2005 to read the Book of Mormon before the end of the year. Each Hinckley Challenge is now designed with a 97-day finish line in honor of President Hinckley’s 97 years of life. (but one is definitely welcome to reach the finish line early)
The Book of Mormon has 531 pages, which means we only have to read 5.47 pages per day to finish by Jan. 6, 2009. Considering how many pages of a newspaper, novel, magazine or especially the internet we read every day, this is a very manageable goal!
I have signed up, and as an extra incentive I am letting my readers keep me accountable! I have placed a little widget in my side-bar where you can watch my progress being tracked!
I invite you to come join me! Even if you find and read this post a past Oct. 1st, no worries! Just log into the challenge site and start wherever you are.
If you have read the Book of Mormon before, then you already know the power it brings into your life every time you study its pages. If you have never read the Book of Mormon, now is a perfect time to find out what it is all about! You can read the Book of Mormon ONLINE. Or, request your very own free copy of this beautiful book by scrolling to the bottom of WWW.MORMON.ORG.
The following is an excerpt of President Hinckley’s historic talk (I added a couple of photos, links and a video clip just for you):
“We often sing in our congregations a favorite hymn, “An Angel from on High,” whose words were written more than a century and a half ago by Parley P. Pratt. They represent his declaration of the miraculous coming forth of a remarkable book. Exactly 176 years ago this fall that book was first being set in type and run on a press in Palmyra, New York.
It is inspiring to learn how Parley Pratt came to know of the book about which he wrote the words of this hymn. In August of 1830, as a lay preacher, he was traveling from Ohio to eastern New York. At Newark, along the Erie Canal, he left the boat and walked 10 miles (16 km) into the country where he met a Baptist deacon by the name of Hamlin, who told him “of a book, a strange book, a VERY STRANGE BOOK! … This book, he said, purported to have been originally written on plates either of gold or brass, by a branch of the tribes of Israel; and to have been discovered and translated by a young man near Palmyra, in the State of New York, by the aid of visions, or the ministry of angels. I inquired of him how or where the book was to be obtained. He promised me the perusal of it, at his house the next day. … Next morning I called at his house, where, for the first time, my eyes beheld the ‘BOOK OF MORMON’—that book of books … which was the principal means, in the hands of God, of directing the entire course of my future life.
“I opened it with eagerness, and read its title page. I then read the testimony of several witnesses in relation to the manner of its being found and translated. After this I commenced its contents by course. I read all day; eating was a burden, I had no desire for food; sleep was a burden when the night came, for I preferred reading to sleep.
“As I read, the spirit of the Lord was upon me, and I knew and comprehended that the book was true, as plainly and manifestly as a man comprehends and knows that he exists.”
Parley Pratt was then 23 years of age. The reading of the Book of Mormon affected him so profoundly that he was soon baptized into the Church and became one of its most effective and powerful advocates. In the course of his ministry he traveled from coast to coast across what is now the United States, into Canada, and to England; he worked in the isles of the Pacific and was the first Latter-day Saint missionary to set foot on the soil of South America. In 1857, while serving a mission in Arkansas, he was shot in the back and killed by an assailant. He was buried in a rural area near the community of Alma, and today in that quiet place a large block of polished granite marks the site of his grave. Incised in its surface are the words of another of his great and prophetic hymns, setting forth his vision of the work in which he was engaged:
The morning breaks, the shadows flee;
Lo, Zion’s standard is unfurled! …
The dawning of a brighter day
Majestic rises on the world.
The clouds of error disappear
Before the rays of truth divine; …
The glory bursting from afar
Wide o’er the nations soon will shine…
Parley Pratt’s experience with the Book of Mormon was not unique. As the volumes of the first edition were circulated and read, strong men and women by the hundreds were so deeply touched that they gave up everything they owned, and in the years that followed not a few even gave their lives for the witness they carried in their hearts of the truth of this remarkable volume.
Today, a century and three-quarters after its first publication, the Book of Mormon is more widely read than at any time in its history. Whereas there were 5,000 copies in that first edition, about 5,000,000 are currently distributed each year, and the book or selections from the book are available in 106 languages.
Its appeal is as timeless as truth, as universal as mankind. It is the only book that contains within its covers a promise that by divine power the reader may know with certainty of its truth.”
Its origin is miraculous; when the story of that origin is first told to one unfamiliar with it, it is almost unbelievable. But the book is here to be felt and handled and read. No one can dispute its presence. All efforts to account for its origin, other than the account given by Joseph Smith, have been shown to lack substance. It is a record of ancient America. It is a scripture of the New World, as certainly as the Bible is the scripture of the Old.
Each of these volumes of scripture speaks of the other. Each carries with it the spirit of inspiration, the power to convince and to convert. Together they become two witnesses, hand in hand, that Jesus is the Christ, the resurrected and living Son of the living God.”…
“…I offer a challenge to members of the Church throughout the world and to our friends everywhere to read or reread the Book of Mormon.