The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies are awesome. What more could you ask for than a story full of dragons, goblins, flesh eating orcs, Dwarves, Hobbits, Humans, and special forces olympic-gymnastics-esque assassin Elves all in one place. There are so many similarities between the stories of middle earth and Christianity its crazy. This makes for totally awesome comparisons between Middle Earth and actual earth. We could probably spend weeks talking about all of them. But for today we will keep it simple.
One of the main characters in the Hobbit is the storied warrior leader of the Dwarves. His name is Thorin Oakenshield. He is the last in a long line of kings. His Father Thrain was a mighty King, as was his Grandfather Thror. He is extremely proud of his heritage and lineage. Thorin is a direct descendent from Durin the Deathless, the original and most revered dwarf King. Thorin makes sure that everyone knows exactly who he is, and from whom he descended. He is Thorin son of Thrain, Son of Thror the Kings under the mountain. Just because its awesome and I needed an excuse to have a Hobbit video on the blog, the following clip is a Lord of the Rings poem written by J.R.R. Tolkein and put to music. It’s called Durin’s song. It explains the history of Durin, and the heritage of the Dwarves that Thorin Oakenshield is so proud of. This is the song that Gimli sang to the Fellowship of the Ring as they entered the the mines of Moria…
As much as I would love to write another 27 pages on the lineage of dwarves, elves, hobbits, and wizards, I’d better not. My reputation of not having a lisp and/or wearing Gandalf garb to the midnight showings of all the Lord of the Rings movies is at stake.
One of the principles that Thorin Oakenshield demonstrates, however, is what I would like to showcase. He is proud of who he is. He announces it openly. He feels very much responsible for the name he bears, and knows that his actions will reflect back on his lineage and carry on after he is gone. He feels this connection to his past through his name and heritage.
Recently, I was reading in Alma and came back to the story of how Alma met Amulek. Amulek was a wealthy man, a well-known man, who lived in the very wicked city, Ammonihah. As Alma was traveling around the cities of the Nephites to strengthen a weakening church, he stopped and taught in Ammonihah only to be outrightly rejected. They cast him out because, “[He] had no power over [them]’ as he had previously “delivered up the judgment-seat unto Nephihah; therefore thou art not the chief judge over us.¹”
Basically, they rejected him saying “You’re not the boss of us.” So, because he no longer had any real legal authority over them, and he was now just a “church guy”, they “reviled him, and spit upon him, and caused that he should be cast out of their city.²”
Not exactly the best reception for the sitting Prophet. After that, Ammonihah was probably scratched of the list of cities to host the next regional conference. After being completely rejected, Alma left. Almost immediately afterwards, however, he was summoned back to Ammonihah by an angel to complete his mission there.
Alma, being Alma, then decided to fast many days in order to attempt to soften the hearts of the people of Ammonihah while traveling back to this unwelcoming city of uber wickedness. This time, however, was different. The first man he saw upon his return to Ammonihah was a man named Amulek, who, not so coincidentally, had also been told by an angel that his meeting with a prophet would take place. Notice the very first words out of Amulek’s mouth to Alma, this total stranger, a man he’d never met.
“And as he (Alma) entered the city he was an hungered, and he said to a man: Will ye give to an humble servant of God something to eat?”
“And the man (Amulek) said unto him: I am a Nephite, and I know that thou art a holy prophet of God, for thou art the man whom an angel said in a vision: Thou shalt receive. Therefore, go with me into my house and I will impart unto thee of my food; and I know that thou wilt be a blessing unto me and my house.³”
Amulek didn’t waste even one syllable in letting Alma know who he was. Right away he comes out and says, “I am a Nephite, and I know thou art a holy prophet of God.”
We don’t really know why exactly why he chose those words to introduce himself. But, in my mind, I imagine Amulek being overly anxious and even excited to express his unwavering support for Alma, the prophet, the church, and the Lord. He was proud to be a Nephite, and happy to be a part of what that actually meant. He knew the heritage behind that name, as well as how that would sound to Alma.
Being a Nephite could have meant not only that he was a descendant of Nephi, but that he was also converted to the Lord, and living righteously. We know that later in the Book of Mormon, all the righteous people were known as Nephites regardless of their lineage, and all those who chose not to be righteous were known as Lamanites4. This was exactly who Amulek was. He was proud to be a Nephite in every sense of that word. So much so, that the first recorded words he uttered to Alma were “I am a Nephite.”
This is awesome. Amulek is awesome. The lesson I take from him, is that I should be proud of where I come from. I should be honored to share the name of my fathers just as Amulek was. I should be proud of my heritage and lineage. I should be willing, and even honored, to wear my belief on my sleeve. That means, at the same time, I need to be worthy of my name, and who I claim to be. And that takes effort, commitment and dedication on my part. I need to BE a Nephite, in order to claim upon meeting the prophet, “I am a Nephite”!
Amulek’s pronouncement was not the first example in the scriptures of clear and bold introductions. Great examples are all over the place….
One such example is when my man, Captain Moroni, never one to mince words, closed his famous beat down letter to Ammoron, the General of the enemy Lamanite army, like this…
“…it supposeth me that thou art a child of hell…I will come against you with my armies; yea, even I will arm my women and my children, and I will come against you, and I will follow you even into your own land, which is the land of our first inheritance; yea, and it shall be blood for blood, yea, life for life; and I will give you battle even until you are destroyed from off the face of the earth.
Behold, I am in my anger, and also my people; ye have sought to murder us, and we have only sought to defend ourselves. But behold, if ye seek to destroy us more we will seek to destroy you; yea, and we will seek our land, the land of our first inheritance.
Now I close my epistle. I am Moroni; I am a leader of the people of the Nephites5.”
In response, Ammoron tried to do the same type of thing, but unfortunately for him, it wasn’t quite as powerful….
“And behold now, I am a bold Lamanite; behold, this war hath been waged to avenge their wrongs, and to maintain and to obtain their rights to the government; and I close my epistle to Moroni6.”
Mormon, author, and abridger of the Book of Mormon left us this clear definition of who he was…
“Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life7.”
The Psalmist gives us a great example of how we can present ourselves before the Lord in prayer to help us gain a testimony…
“I am thy servant; give me understanding, that I may know thy testimonies8.”
The best example of all, and by far the most powerful to read, is the way the Lord himself handles his own introductions. He makes it powerfully clear just who He is.
“I am the first and the last; I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father9.”
“Behold, I am Jesus Christ the Son of God. I created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are. I was with the Father from the beginning. I am in the Father, and the Father in me; and in me hath the Father glorified his name10.
I am the light and the life of the world. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end11.”
“Behold, I am God and have spoken it12;…”
I want to be just like Amulek, Mormon, and Moroni. I want to stand up and honorably proclaim who I am, and live worthily to do so. I want to be just like my Savior, and live in such a way that others can see his influence on me. I want to wear my belief and my spiritual heritage on my sleeve, and BE who I claim to be. A Christian, a Father, a Husband, and a Mormon.
1. Alma 8:12
2. Alma 8:13
3. Alma 8:19,20
4. 4 Nephi 37,38
5. Alma 54:11-14
6. Alma 54:24
7. 3 Nephi 5:13
8. Psalm 119:125
9. D&C 110:4
10. 3 Nephi 9:13
11. 3 Nephi 9:18
12. D&C 1:24