By Rod Johnson

Rodric believes Moroni included special instruction for Modern times and wants to share his unique perspective the same way Moroni shared in The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.

Shooting of Black Men

The fatalities of Black men paraded around the news and within the causes of minority groups to satisfy popular media instead of correcting the problem of how to change the antecedent stimulus only precipitates a problem that will lead to cultural wars and more rioting.

February 26, 2012, marks the tragic end of the life of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin at the hands of a neighborhood watch member, George Zimmerman.

What a travesty of a great program to protect our neighborhoods--marred by such a situation, reminding us that no system of protection exists without the flaws of humanity twisting their ways into the works. What a tragedy in the loss of life; one to the grave and the other to social derision.
As unfortunate as the death of this Florida teen is and ever will be, opponents of the “Stand Your Ground” policies that permit citizens to use force, deadly force to protect themselves in the event of threats use the Martin family tragedy to advance rhetoric to remove it.

Further, this tragedy is complicated by racially charged groups jockeying for a voice in the matter to claim Zimmerman executed the youth due to racial motives rather than shooting while defending himself. Zimmerman was on trial a year later.

A year later and after blatant tarnishing of Trayvon Martin’s memory extended to the august chambers of the United States legislators as one congressperson, Bobby Rush, donned apparel similar to the youth in protest to racial profiling—though the rules of Congress prohibit such demonstrations has faded into history other stories of violence paint the American collective mind with sorrow and anxiousness.
The fatalities of Black men paraded around the news and within the causes of minority groups to satisfy popular media instead of correcting the problem of how to change the antecedent stimulus only precipitates a problem that will lead to cultural wars and more rioting.

Gov. Deval Patrick, A continued plague of social warfare?

Race may have been a factor in the slaying of the men by police officers. The societal evidence that a large percentage of criminals in the justice system are minorities, with an overwhelming percentage disproportionately African Americans when compared to the 12 to 15 percent Blacks comprise of the US population supports the misconception that Blacks are inherently criminal. Michael Brown and Ferguson... Nothing has changed.
Historical and cultural norms have not progressed enough to assuage the long-held perceptions that people of color are inherently suspicious from the days of racial purity popularly held by the British influences of early America.

These deeply rooted cultural blots bleed into every aspect of American society and every cultural group—lending to the suspicion of minority groups that Caucasians secretly desire to oppress them.
Racism exists on both fronts. Minorities bastardize historical racism with comparisons to implied affronts, while Caucasians diminish or dismiss true instances of racism based on the rancorous claims of minorities that seem to surface so often.
Though morally unpopular, racism is not against the law. We are free to detest whom we will. When we attempt to uphold racist beliefs with action against any group to harm, then it is illegal. America is scarred with prejudice and change comes slowly, very much so.
“I’m sick of unarmed black men being shot by police. We have a great challenge in this country acknowledging the extraordinary progress we have made on race relations ... And at the same time, acknowledging how much remains to be done.” Boston Herald.


Zimmerman may have acted on a preconceived belief about Black men in certain apparel when he followed the boy around the neighborhood in opposition to the 911 dispatcher’s advice before he reported defending himself; however, translating his crime into a race hate crime is at best suspect. 

Can the same be said about the officers who choked Eric Garner until he passed away? Was his resistance to the police because of cultural norms that led to his death? Did Officer Daniel Pantaleo act on latent racist triggers or was the psychological impact of American culture in play?

Certain elements must be present to justify that accusation. What motivated him internally cannot be proven unless Daniel Pantaleo specifically states that his motivations for using his arrest technique on Garner were because of his African American heritage, or other evidentiary items surface.
In the Zimmerman/Martin situation, no one reported that Zimmerman is multiracial making it a minority-on-minority hate crime proven beyond doubt in a court of law that Trayvon did attack George and not a White against Black hate crime. Though such distinction is judicially moot, social perceptions treat the same matter differently.
In many reports, the items found with the Martin youth are stated with an undercurrent of accusation that lethal force was aggressive. The lack of witnesses to the incident and the psycho-social implication of Zimmerman’s name without reference to his racial identity automatically implant the idea in the collective psyche of America to take a position to fill the gap of information—for or against Zimmerman. A year later, has any of that changed?
This incident did not become the chagrin to the nation further socially. Rational people recognized racial potential evident to the case and avoided it. America has other things to worry about. Trayvon's family is still grieving. Thousands of families grieve because of the tactics of the policing systems in the United States.

The problem the police face is whether to respond with deadly force or not. When a person resists arrest as did many of the fatalities and most arrest ending with brutality, what are the cops to do?

Should they allow themselves to be killed or wounded? Mark Collins was shot and wounded in the line of duty by a Black man, Sheldon Leftenant. Collins was shot in his neck and hip. Rushed by helicopter to Stony Brook University Hospital, he lived.

Are Black men being hunted? Leftenant is gang affiliated.  Are police officers being hunted? Did Sheldon allegedly shoot the officer in fear?
Death is tragic by itself. If Zimmerman’s claim is true, which it is decided that it is by the courts, he should not suffer for protecting himself against an aggressor just because that aggressor happens to be Black, and neither should cops suffer. BUT... they should be investigated pervasively!

The “Stand Your Ground” policy should never be in question, but the motives of those who would employ it to veil criminal acts are still out there!
How does it compare to the killing of unarmed Black men by police officers--something that has not decreased over time and is receiving more news? Did those police officers feel threatened by the men because of what they wore? Were the hands up to surrender a sign of aggression. Either way, another minority is shot and killed.

Shakespeare Has Nothing on Lehi!

Reading in The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, I came across a passage of scripture, which many people claim proves that The Book of Mormon is a farce because Joseph Smith Junior must have plagiarized Shakespeare's Hamlet.

Lehi in despair over the souls of his children because at least two, Laman and Lemuel, did not express a sentiment to follow the commandments of God, feared for the salvation of their souls because he was shown in vision what things would befall his descendants. Due to the eventual wickedness of all of his sons' offspring, they would dwindle or languish in unbelief. According to Lehi, it all occurred because of the willful attitudes of  Laman and Lemuel. He besought them to believe in God.

"Awake," implored Lehi in the energy of his soul at the plight of his sons and their future offspring! "And arise from the dust, and hear the words of a trembling parent, whose limbs ye must soon lay down in the cold and silent grave, from whence no traveler can return." This portion of the verse is where Joseph Smith is purported to have quoted Hamlet, therefore, proving the entire record of the Nephites a fraud and fiction! Poppycock! (2 Nephi 1:14) 

This is what Shakespeare wrote as the character Hamlet giving an interpretive exposition on the meaning of life:

"Who would fardels bear," Hamlet questions speaking of the culmination of events or bundle of events called life, "To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death, The undiscovered country from whose bourn No traveler returns, puzzles the will And makes us rather bear those ills we have Than fly to others that we know not of?" (Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 1, page 4)

The modern text makes this more familiar to us as it reads, "Who would choose to grunt and sweat through an exhausting life, unless they were afraid of something dreadful after death, the undiscovered country from which no visitor returns, which we wonder about without getting any answers from and which makes us stick to the evils we know rather than rush off to seek the ones we don’t?(Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 1, page 4)

This part, "The undiscovered country from whose bourn No traveler returns.." is supposed to birth the words of Lehi which are, "...lay down in the cold and silent grave, from whence no traveler can return...."

Three words are similar, the words "no," "traveler," and "return." How does that prove Joseph Smith plagiarized Hamlet? Lehi was to lay down in a grave from which no traveler can return as an end-of-life event. Hamlet expressed that when people die, they will not return.

Just because they expressed similar sentiments does not mean that Joseph Smith must have invented the Book of Mormon makes it, therefore, false! That is ludicrous.

Also, the words of Lehi are more melodious and beautiful than those expressed by Shakespeare in the fake character of Hamlet. There is no comparison between the Book of Mormon and Hamlet. Shakespeare wishes he could have written as well as what Joseph Smith translated.

I suppose I am not impartial in this comparison. I enjoy Shakespeare's writings and the many works that are based on them. The Book of Mormon actually changed my life and continues to do so daily. I am sure Shakespeare would have appreciated the life-altering effect the words of the prophets from that book of scripture has on millions.

AND, even if Joseph Smith did use a sentiment from Hamlet during translation, it was three words. How is that quoting Hamlet? He basically said, when you die you don't come back! No one comes back. At the time Lehi expressed that sentiment for the majority of mankind it was true! There were exceptions of people who were raised from the dead, but it was uncommon. Just like if you fall from an airplane in our day with no parachute you die. There have been exceptions, but the rule for such an occurrence is death!

I digress. Hamlet is not quoted in The Book of Mormon. 

Moroni Saw Me

Moroni Saw MeHope is the essence of faith in things that are true. Through the challenges of life, a young boy journeys for peace, acceptance, and joy. The story is about budding faith that grows into the thriving flowers of hope with the guided hand of the divine. Rodric, the boy, finds challenges that seem constant with the loss of a loved one or the challenge of standing alone. 

Longing for a paternal relationship he never gets, Rodric finds his Father in God as he turns to Him for support. He goes through humorous experiences, daring adventures and near-fatal rendezvous all with the same goal in mind, hope in something more, which he finds! 

The boy grows into a man dealing with more love and loss and the realities of racism even in the face of religion. Finding faith alone is not enough urges him onward to discipleship as he suffers greatly to refine himself more to become like his Master Jesus Christ. 

Experience the passion, the joy, the journey and the hope of one man under the prophetic eye of Moroni, an ancient American prophet who provided the guide that led Rodric to Christ. Hope is the driving force of the human condition to reach for greatness. Will it last? Yes! Reach with him!

I, Donald Trump

I wasn't going to be public about this, but I changed my mind. When I went to the polls to vote for president, I received a strong impression to vote for Donald Trump. I did not do it. 

I do not think that I disliked any presidential candidate more than him. I did not like him as a person before he even considered running for president. He, and I must say it honestly, is a Jerk to me. HE IS A JERK!
There is no BUT in this. He is a jerk. I have no idea why I received a prompting to vote for him except I prayed that God would put the right person in the presidential office for the job. I agree with his moral stances on marriage and family--issues like abortion. I just don't like HIM!
I could not listen to that prompting. It might have been God trying to tell me not to judge the man for his past. It didn’t occur to me until I read on Facebook under one of my favorite authors views a responder who experienced the same thing I did. She was prompted to vote for Trump. I think she was able to follow through with it.  I am so prejudiced against him because of his behavior. When he is sworn into office, I will do my best to speak honorably of him, but I had to get it out that I hate his behavior. I am ashamed that he will represent me--especially if he does not shelve his bad behavior.

Why I did not Like Trump

I did not like Trump because I think he is rude, that's it. I do not dislike Bill Clinton, who is also a womanizer. Bill is not rude, though. I say all this because I am going to repent and pray that God helps me to not harbor so much contempt for this man.
I care that he might be racist. I care. I have lived, worked and worshiped with racist people my entire life. I expect people to be that way now. I have behaved that way on occasion. I think I dislike Trump so much because inside I am just like him and not man enough to admit it, even though I might have just done that. We often hate in others the weaknesses that are evident in ourselves.

It is really myself I Hate?

I do not celebrate such thoughts. If I am a racist, I Know I am working to change through the atonement of Jesus Christ, who will help me. Because I am a Black person, I can get away with writing this or saying it. I know I can because I have in the past. I want to say I DO NOT speak of any race in derision in public or private. I do, though. I joked about being Black in Church on Sunday! In church! I did the same thing about White people—knowing that my categorical statements were just jokes. But there is some truth behind every joke, whether it is my truth or a societal truth. So, I reflect on whether I genuinely harbor racist feelings toward Whites and others or even other Blacks—it is possible.  
I could not vote for Trump because I am like him, or what I assume him to be—a racist, misogynistic, jerk. If I am really that, then maybe I should cleanse my inner vessel more so that I can see Trump clear enough. I don’t want to dislike myself, so I project on a scapegoat other than THE SCAPEGOAT, Jesus.

Charity of the Believer

Now, I have to give Trump the same love as I give myself. Sometimes it is hard to want to live my life as a Christian. I do not abuse myself for fleeting thoughts or misplaced statements. Why should I insult Trump for misplaced words? I do my best to keep my opinions hidden from others so they will not dislike me. I don’t tell people who are ugly, stupid, nasty and such that they are those things because I care about how it makes them feel, even it I think it is true. Wrong.
I do say my thoughts sometimes. I put my foot in my mouth more than I care to admit. That is why I find myself smiling and making jokes so much. I am trying not to be taken seriously so that people will dismiss my words if I slip up.
My heart is still heavy because of what I did almost 20 years ago as a missionary in South Africa to another missionary who showed me a picture of his sister. I told him she was the ugliest woman I had ever seen. It was not right, and there is more to the story, but does that not sound like Donald Trump?
I have repented and begged that person’s forgiveness, but I have still not forgiven myself completely. That is why I cannot stand Donald Trump. He is just like me. Well, maybe not just like.

I am trying to change. Maybe Donald is too.