BONUS Episode // Scripture Study Tips for Peacemaking Principles

Mar 05, 2024
Proclaim Peace

In this special bonus episode, Jen and Patrick address feedback from listeners wanting to learn more about their approach to reading scripture and extracting peacemaking principles from the Book of Mormon. They discuss their personal experiences with re-reading books and share insights on how to delve deeper into the text to uncover hidden gems. Join them as they offer pointers on their unique method of studying Scripture for valuable takeaways on peacemaking principles.




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[00:02:21] Reading Scripture in New Ways.

[00:04:40] Fresh approach to Book of Mormon.

[00:07:47] Color-coding Book of Mormon themes.

[00:13:29] Questioning behavior for self-improvement.

[00:15:03] Peace and community in scriptures.



(00:03-00:06) Jennifer Thomas: Welcome to the Proclaim Peace Podcast. I'm Jennifer Thomas.
(00:06-00:15) Patrick Mason: And I'm Patrick Mason. And this is the podcast where we apply principles of the gospel and read the Book of Mormon to become better peacemakers. How are you, Jen?

(00:15-00:16) Jennifer Thomas: I'm doing okay, Patrick.

(00:17-01:13) Patrick Mason: Great. So we thought that we would offer a kind of special bonus episode for people. We thank you to everybody who's been listening so far. We are thrilled and gratified by all the feedback that we've gotten by people who have listened to the first few episodes. But one of the pieces of feedback that we've gotten so far, as we've been diving into the Book of Mormon and pulling out these principles of peacemaking from it, we've heard from people saying, hey, I love what you're doing. But I'm interested in learning more, like, how do you read Scripture this way? Like, some of these things have never occurred to me. I've read the Book of Mormon a zillion times, approximately, right? And some of these things have never occurred. So, we thought it would be fun to do a quick bonus episode just on a few pointers of some of the ways that we're approaching Scripture and pulling out some of these peacemaking principles. So, Jen, yeah, tell us more about kind of how you're coming at this.

(01:14-01:48) Jennifer Thomas: So it was really interesting as that questions came in to me from a couple of sources and it's come into both Patrick and I. One of the things that I thought about is how I read, you know, it made me stop and examine my process. And I remember years ago, my mother complaining to one of my teachers that I read books, the same books over and over again. And she was worried that that would diminish, I don't know, that I wasn't getting out of my reading what I could. And I remember one of my, this was my third grade teacher, told my mom that, hey, the first time you read a book, you're reading for narrative, right? You're reading for the storyline, you're reading for basic plot.

(01:48-01:50) Patrick Mason: Figure out who all the characters are.

(01:51-03:20) Jennifer Thomas: Yeah, timeline, what happens, what comes next. And a really, really good book deserves to be read many more times than once. Because after you sort of sort out plot and characters, then you can also start to sort out deeper things like symbolism and meaning and relationships that just a really good book deserves that attention. And so we just want to propose today that often maybe we read, we stop reading scripture at a certain point. So we get to the first point where we're reading for plot, narrative development, we sort of understand who all the characters are. And that's particularly easy to do, I think, in the Book of Mormon, which is an unusual book of scripture in that it just really does follow a super specific timeline. I mean, it jumps around a little bit, but we've got people, we know who our people are. Then the second thing that I think we often do as members of the church or as believers is that we then start to read scripture for doctrine, which is great. We're looking for little scriptures that can tell us doctrine or commandments, like ways that we can behave or act or things that we can do to kind of align ourselves with God and the doctrines of the church. And that is also really important because that's a step of believing and committing yourself to be a follower of Christ. But I think there are then next steps that we can take in how we read the scriptures that even open them further to us. And I think that's what we're hoping that we'll be doing this year in this podcast.

(03:21-04:39) Patrick Mason: Yeah, I totally resonate with that. I mean, I think I learned to, as I think about my own trajectory, I learned the stories first. In a lot of ways, that's what, you know, childhood and primary and maybe some of those early years of seminary. And then I read for doctrine. And I think especially about my scripture study as a missionary that was very focused on learning the doctrine. And that was successful. I was able to do that. But I think one of the challenges that people have sometimes is when they stop there, or when that's how they continue to read Scripture all the time, they get in a little bit of a rut, because oftentimes they're reading the same old marked-up copy of Scriptures, maybe even the same ones that they had on their mission. And so what that means is when they open the Scriptures, they already know what's important. in the sense of like, they already know the things that they've underlined, which means they might miss some other things because your eye just naturally gravitates, or you know the verses that are important because you learned those verses so well. So you're reading along, and you're kind of skimming, or your eyes are glazed until you hit that verse that you know and love, and it's like, oh, that's what this chapter is all about. So we want to just take a couple of minutes, not too long, but to just offer some strategies of some things that we've been doing to read the Book of Mormon a little bit differently, especially this year. So, Jen, what have you been doing?

(04:40-05:54) Jennifer Thomas: So the first thing I want to add that I think both Patrick and I came into this project super enthusiastically, believing that the Book of Mormon had a lot to teach us about peace. And I think I can speak for both of us when we say, even just as far in as we've gotten, we are amazed at the wealth of what is there. So even people who were reading this, looking for this, we have been amazed at the beautiful stuff that we've found. So one, I will just say that one trick that has been really helpful to me is I actually have a separate book that I read for my personal study. It's the one that I'm reading with my family. And then I have a blue book, you know, a traditional blue book that I am using that I only do when I'm reading about peace. And it has helped me to have a completely fresh copy that I am just writing abundantly in the margins that I can come across a scripture that I know is important in the sense that it's it was on my scripture mastery list or I really used it a lot on my mission but I'm like that's not relevant to this piece conversation so I'm just gonna be it's okay for me not to underline that it's okay for me not to like interrogate that scripture and just kind of move on so having a fresh copy has been a huge help to me with with this idea of I'm approaching this reading with a whole new lens and that has helped a ton

(05:55-07:45) Patrick Mason: I totally agree. I've done the exact same thing. So I have my beloved pair of scriptures that I've had forever, right? But I set that aside this year. I actually went and got a really nice journal edition of the Book of Mormon from Deseret Book. And it's formatted exactly like the traditional thing, but it's got huge margins. And for me, just having, and it feels differently, it's kind of a different weight, different dimensions. And just in a kind of tactile sense, it's just different enough. that I feel like it's a different reading experience. And again, because it's a blank canvas, right? I don't have anything underlined in there. So I'm coming at it fresh. And I think that is so important. Another thing that I'm using this year a lot is Grant Hardy's annotated Book of Mormon. This is published by Oxford University Press. So I'm not here to like pitch Deseret Book or pitch Oxford University Press. I'm just saying these are the tools that I'm using. This is the closest thing we have to a study Bible for the Book of Mormon. So So if you go to lots of other churches, or if you go to Christian bookstores or whatever, you can find study Bibles that are the Bible, but with tons of apparatus, like tons of footnotes, not just the cross-reference to other scriptures, like our traditional standard works do, but actually give you lots of explanation and scholarly background. And it's super interesting stuff about the language and all these kinds of things. So Grant Hardy, who's an amazing Book of Mormon scholar, he's a professor of comparative religion, he's done this, published it with Oxford University Press. So I have that to the side, and he's formatted it differently. So again, it looks different, it reads different, so my reading habits get disrupted a little bit. So I have that, I have my journal edition, and between those two, I'm just seeing verses that apparently have been hiding in plain sight all along.

(07:47-08:55) Jennifer Thomas: So I'm going to share one other thing that I've done that's a little bit neurotic and weird, but I went through the index of my little blue Book of Mormon at the beginning of this year, and I had two different colors, and I picked particularly neutral colors. I tried not to be crazy about that, but I went through and any one or anything that was conducive to peace, I highlighted in one color and anything anything from the topical guide that I thought was antithetical to peace I highlighted in a different color and then I circled characters people in the book who were I saw as peacemakers and people who I saw as destructive of peace and it was just a really good overview of me to kind of get all of these individuals and these ideas out of context of the scriptures, but say these are the things that are appearing in the Book of Mormon. These are the ideas and the values, whether it's apostasy or the anti-Nephi-Lehi's, and then I can look at those people independently of them embedded in scripture and say, okay, is this gonna bring peace or is this probably not gonna bring peace? And it has just framed my thinking in a way that now when I'm back in the text has really been helpful to me. I don't know why, but that's just one way that I've done it this reading.

(08:55-10:22) Patrick Mason: Yeah, I love that. So I didn't do that. I really like that practice. That's really useful. I came at it again with this blank canvas, this blank slate of just knowing that we were going to be doing this podcast, knowing that we were going to be diving in. I brought that set of questions to the Book of Mormon this time, very intentionally saying, what does this teach me about peace and conflict? And, you know, we've heard this from prophets and apostles, you know, saying like, I went through and searched all the different times it talks about the house of Israel. I went through and searched all the different times it talks about the atonement of Jesus Christ, right? And I circled that or highlighted that. And I think that's a phenomenal practice. So that's what I've been doing through peace. all the scriptures that talk about peace and conflict. And again, it's just like putting on a set of lenses, right? A set of colored lenses. You're just going to see the world in a little bit different way. And so by putting on this particular set of peace lenses, just certain things have popped out that I never noticed before. But it's being really intentional that every day when I come to the Scriptures, I'm asking that question. And like you said, what that means is that I have beloved passages in there that do talk about other principles that I care a lot about, but they're not focused on this. And so, again, it's not like I'm disregarding them or tearing them out of my Scriptures. I'm just saying that I'm letting other things kind of pop out.

(10:23-11:39) Jennifer Thomas: Well, and I will add something that has been really important to me is. and this is something that I started doing before this podcast and my work with him like is being very intentional in my prayers about Becoming a peacemaker and I shared early on in this podcast that that is not intuitive to me I have to really think about how to be a peacemaker in order to do it But every time I start reading the scriptures if I start with a prayer that is like help me find in this book ways that I can be a peacemaker, patterns that people have, you know, lived that will help me follow. I found such a wealth of information in the book just looking for people that I can copy and it turns out they're different people than I was trying to model my life after to achieve different things and that's okay. There are some, you know, individuals in the Book of Mormon that become wonderful models of different kinds of virtues. But when I started looking for the people in the Book of Mormon who were modeling peacemaking or failing to model peacemaking, suddenly there was a whole bunch of information that has been so personally useful to me as I've tried to kind of reorient how I structure my life and how I behave.

(11:40-12:57) Patrick Mason: I love that. Love that. And it reminds me of the principle we talked about in the very first episode we did with Emma Petty Adams about how Jesus is the hero of the story. Everybody else in the book is imperfect, so they exemplify certain virtues, right? And so we can see, oh, this is a great exemplar of this virtue. This is a great exemplar of this virtue. So who are the peacemakers that we find? I think the last thing that I'll say that's been really useful to me, and I take this from my seven-year-old. She, you know, as I read with her every night before bedtime, she is, she just asks lots of questions. She asks, why all the time? What does that mean? What does that word mean? What is that? And she's just full of questions. And I'm trying to do the same thing. Again, I've read the Book of Mormon so many times, I've attended church so much that there's a temptation to come to this, like, I already know what it says. And so, I'm trying to be more like my seven-year-old. And again, come to it as a blank canvas and pretend like I don't know what it says. I have the luxury of knowing the characters and the basic story and so forth, but coming at it as close as I can with fresh eyes and saying, why, why, why? And I found that to be really helpful. Any last tips from you, Jen?

(12:58-14:22) Jennifer Thomas: Yeah, I just actually really want to second the why, because I think that if we think we understand the why that people did things in the Book of Mormon, we're not interrogating that anymore. And I completely agree, Patrick, as I have started reading this year and asking, why did that person behave that way? Why did that question get raised? What, you know, why were they arguing? That why has opened up all sorts of opportunities for me to ask those same questions of myself. Why am I behaving this way? Why did I choose that, right? And the why is actually the question of our life, right? Like we all make choices and why do we make them? Why do we make the ones that we make? And the more comfortable we are with asking that question and answering it honestly, I think the more RAP improve as disciples. the more comfortable we all think, why did I do that thing and how can I do better? That is when we are in a headspace where we're able and willing to change. And I think the beautiful messages of the Book of Mormon invite us to, like we said several times, they invite us to do it at a remove. They're like, I can watch people who were good people who stumbled through this mortal existence and have left a record for me to understand of what they did right and what they did wrong. And by asking why, why did they do that? I actually think that's one of our most profound takeaways from the book.

(14:22-14:31) Patrick Mason: I love that because ultimately it's not just to gain cerebral knowledge, but it's actually to transform our lives and turn us into something better. Well, fantastic. Anything else?

(14:31-15:19) Jennifer Thomas: Yeah, I think the final thing I would add is I know that Patrick and I have found joy in having these conversations, preparatory conversations with each other. We have a group going in MWAG that's sharing conversations about this. This is a really wonderful opportunity to find someone else in your world, a couple of other people who are interested in joining into this project with you. and get into conversations with them about how the scriptures are opening up to them about peace. We'd love to hear your feedback on that. If you want to share that with us, we'd love it. You can share it at That, I think, is going to be one of the richest parts of the journey, because Patrick and I can't cover everything in this podcast, and we're 100% sure that you're all going to find things that we don't see. Find ways to share that and witness to it to other people of the profound capacity of the Book of Mormon to build peace.

(15:19-15:41) Patrick Mason: Yeah, that's terrific. So yeah, there's a lot to learn on our own, but a lot that we learn in community as well. So, well, great. Well, we hope this has been helpful to everybody. Remember to rate, review, and subscribe, and ask us your questions. Send us your feedback so that we can maybe do some other bonus episodes like this in the future. Jen, it's a pleasure, as always.

(15:41-15:43) Jennifer Thomas: Always a pleasure talking to you, Patrick.

(15:43-16:07) Patrick Mason: Great, and we hope you're all successful out there being peacemakers. Thanks everybody for listening today. We really appreciate it. We just want to invite you to subscribe to the podcast and also to rate and review it. We love hearing feedback from listeners, so please email us at podcast at We also want to invite you to think about ways that you can make peace in your life this week. Thanks for listening and we'll see you next time.

(16:12-16:28) Jennifer Thomas: Thank you for listening to Proclaim Peace, a proud member of the Faith Matters Podcast Network. Faith Matters holds expansive conversations about the restored gospel to accompany individuals on their journey of faith. You can learn more about Faith Matters and check out our other shows at


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