I served my mission in Brazil, and during that time (in Brazil) Pokémon was fairly popular among the children. This was new territory to me, so while participating in the ‘develop a relationship of trust’ mode, I only learned how to say Pokémon with a Brazilian accent. Therefore, whenever I said Pokémon, it sounded like Poke-EH-moan but happened to be a very pronounced EH, so it was more like Poke-EH!-moan (If I am honest, I trailed the moan a bit for dramatic flare, so it sounded a lot like some alien-Jamaican version of moan). I then came home to America, and the first time I ever said Pokémon to Amanda (my wife), she laughed and asked me to repeat myself over and over again. This hasn’t gotten old for her, since apparently in English it is pronounced Poke-e-mon. No emphasis, no flare, just a plain old robot word. I guess in America we ignore the little thingy above the e which stands for ‘I am important, please emphasize me and my syllable while you say this word’. If nothing else, it provided a chance for my wife and I to discuss the differences between Poke-e-mon and Poke-EH!-Moan to see which was correct and which one felt more natural as it rolled off our tongues and into the air (Hint: it’s Poke-EH!-Muahon or something like that).
That example was with a single word, but sometimes we read or hear a phrase that can have the same affect on us, or we can skip right past a phrase because we have only ever heard it pronounced by C3PO’s cousin. A simple emphasis on a word or syllable here or there can dramatically affect the meaning of a phrase. There are several scripture phrases that can be better understood if we try and pronounce them more like a gringo Brazilian than a sophisticated English major. One that I have found recently is found in 2 Ne. 9:44 (particularly the phrase at the end which reads “I stand with brightness”.
If we just play with the emphasis for a little bit, we may read it completely differently, and perhaps by evaluating all the different syllables or meanings for emphasis, we can truly understand that it may actually mean all of them are true – all at the same time.
STAND with brightness
At first glance, or in a simple reading, (or perhaps taken all on it’s own without context for which Jacob used it) the phrase “stand with brightness” seems to fit the same idea as ‘stand ye in holy places’ (D&C 87:8, 2 Chron. 35:5, Ps 24:3) or ‘let your light so shine before men’ (Matt. 5:16. 3 Ne. 12:16) suggesting the idea of being an example or ‘standing for something’ – especially when we include the ‘brightness’ at the end of the phrase – after all, do men light a candle, and then hide it under a bushel (Luke 11:33, Mark 4:21)? No, they share it (or they are supposed to).
Stand with BRIGHTNESS
This reading may be similar to the first one, with a bit more emphasis on the degree of light coming from our stance. This may have more focus on our own internal testimonies, etc. in order to get the soft, 15-watt glow that we are sharing ramped up to a solid 60 or 100-watt output. I think the charge here is to bring it up as high as we can. If we are to stand with ‘brightness’, let’s make sure that we understand the difference between a 40 W standard incandescent, a 17W LED, and a 23W CFL bulb on the lumens scale.
Stand WITH Brightness
At first reading, this might be the simplest and most easily discounted arrangement, mostly because this can easily be rolled into one of the first two arrangements – and it does mean those things, but – when we stop and think about what this could also mean we are open to the other possibilities. What if instead of using ‘with’ as a transition to ‘brightness’ we use it as a description of who else is coming to the party? What if the brightness is more of a someone than a something? What if we read this sentence with John 8:12, 9:5 and D&C 11:28 in mind? Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I am the life and the light of the world” whose “countenance shone above the brightness of the sun” (D&C 110:3). Then, we could read it with the understanding that brightness may have been standing there strong and firm all along – and we just decided to join the party ourselves.
Now, with all 3 of these different pronunciations of the phrase, we are ready to understand what it means, and then combine all 3 meanings into a single understanding of what it means to truly ‘stand with brightness’. Standing tall, firm, and resolute ‘having a perfect brightness of hope’ (2 Ne. 31:20), with a determination to grow ever more brighter, all made possible by the actual brightness, which is above the brightness of the sun. And the nearer we stand with brightness, the brighter we become.
Jesus Christ is truly the absolute middle of everything in our universe.
Let us stand up for him, resolve to stand firmly with him, and in so doing he will lend his brightness to us little by little so that we can obey the charge to stand with brightness.