Hope though the Atonement of Jesus Christ as an Antidote to the Denethor Syndrome

In J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic fantasy trilogy, The Lord of the Rings (LotR), the character Denethor is an inheritor of a powerful, but dangerous magical artifact, a palantir. The palantir were a set of crystal balls that allowed the user to browse images from anywhere around the world and to chat with other people who also had palantir. Unfortunately, Sauron, the supreme representative of evil in the LotR, had a palantir and used it to feed Denethor fearful images. Denethor’s fears and anxieties, constantly fed and updated by Sauron, “overthrew [Denethor’s] mind.” (1) Denethor not only decides to accept the false futures on his magic feed, but also attempts to kill his own son to bring one of these fears to life.

This story, although only fantasy, is tragically moving to read. This misery of avoidable despair becomes even more poignant as we observe the exact thing happening to so many of us today. Like Denethor, many of us have access to a seemingly magic artifact that feeds us information through a glass surface. As humans, we are often drawn to sensation and tragedy; accordingly, our social media and news feeds increasingly feed us more sensation and tragedy slowly educating our choices. Soon we willingly search out doom and gloom. The internet has dubbed this condition, “doomscrolling.” (2) Like the situation in the LotR, Satan has access to our magical devices too and as taught by Lehi, “[the devil] seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself” (2 Nephi 2: 27). He wants us to be afraid; he wants us to be depressed.

Like Denethor, our increased access to information can convince us that we are wise and far-knowing. We may believe that we are preparing for a current or future threat, but when we are confronted with fears that we are unable or unwilling to do anything about, our fears won’t only not help us, but will surely hurt us. Fear leads to failure, is a principle culled from a prophecy by the prophet Joseph Smith: “men’s hearts shall fail them; for fear shall come upon all people” (D&C 88:91). Fear is a tool of the adversary, not the Lord. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). Power, love, and a sound mind are gifts we should seek from the Lord.

We have to use the word to check the information from the world, the internet, or our social media feeds. Our prophet counseled us, “I plead with you today to counter the lure of the world by making time for the Lord in your life—each and every day. If most of the information you get comes from social or other media, your ability to hear the whisperings of the Spirit will be diminished. If you are not also seeking the Lord through daily prayer and gospel study, you leave yourself vulnerable to philosophies that may be intriguing but are not true. ” (3)

Unfortunately, the feeling of despair is so thick today you can feel it. Everyone is talking about how terrible the world is, and almost no one is talking about how great it is. Is our situation really as bad as the internet depicts, or as Satan wants you to think it is? No. It is not. Yet, regrettably, even our youth, the ones who have the most to be excited about for the future, are afraid; they are depressed. A recent study from BYU highlights this growing fear in our youth, “anxiety and depression is becoming increasingly prevalent among young adults in the US. with both disorders increasing by 63% from 2005 to 2017.”

Sadly, social media platforms, the very tools used to connect us, also isolate us, which leads us to anxiety and depression. This same study finds that “young adults who use 7 or more social media platforms are statistically 3 times more likely to experience increased levels of depression and anxiety than young adults who use 2 or less. Although more research needs to be done. individuals may be up to 46% more likely to have depression if they are using social media more than 60 minutes per day.” (4) Our prophet is aware of this phenomenon and has taught: “The Lord has declared that despite today’s unprecedented challenges, those who build their foundations upon Jesus Christ, and have learned how to draw upon His power, need not succumb to the unique anxieties of this era.” (5) It is beneficial to realize that people are unique with unique problems that require individually-tailored solutions.

For example, my father and I dealt with fear and anxiety differently. Fear motivates him to action and I admire his courage. In contrast, fear demotivates me; it paralyzed me. I have unknowingly struggled with anxiety my whole life. What I have to do is rid myself of fear first. I have found that humbling myself before the Lord and surrendering to him helps me conquer fear. After Christ’s atoning power helps me dispel my fear, I can move. And so, in the words of Moroni, I say “I would commend you to seek this Jesus of whom the prophets and apostles have written” (Ether 12:41). Faith in Jesus Christ will give us hope.

Alma taught: “faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true” (Alma 32:21). Faith and hope are connected in this definition. The apostle Elder Neal A. Maxwell expounded upon this connection, “Faith and hope are constantly interactive and are not always easily or precisely distinguished…Yet in the geometry of the restored theology, hope corresponds to faith but sometimes has a greater circumference. Faith, in turn, constitutes ‘the assurance of things hoped for’ and the proof of ‘things not seen’ (JST, Heb. 11:1; see also Ether 12:6). Thus hope sometimes reconnoiters beyond the present boundaries of faith, but it always radiates from Jesus.” (6) Jesus is the center of our faith, our faithful acts create a radius as we confidently walk the “straight and narrow” out from him towards the circumference of our hopes’ edges.

Our hopes are strengthened as our faith increases in Christ. Jacob instructed his people, “we search the prophets, and we have many revelations and the spirit of prophecy; and having all these witnesses we obtain a hope, and our faith becometh unshaken” (Jacob 4:6). As we study the gospel, we find that the most important victory has already been won; Christ broke the chains of sin and death. When we meditate on Christ’s atonement, the spirit can increase our awareness of the resurrection’s reality. We will begin to hope more fully for the moment when we will meet Him. We might begin to “look forward with an eye of faith, and view this mortal body raised in immortality, and this corruption raised in incorruption, to stand before God” (Alma 5:15). We might imagine the Lord saying to us in that moment, “ye shall have eternal life” (2 Nephi 31:20). This moment should excite us!

As our “confidence [waxes] strong in the presence of God,” we will be more confident in our day to day lives too. Because of Christ’s resurrection, we will be able to have hope even when it is hardest to hope. Near the end of the LotR series, when darkness seemed poised to overcome the world, some found hope through one of the three types of Christ in the story. The resurrection of the wizard Gandalf in the following vignette helps two soldiers after they beheld one of the supernatural enemies flying over their head.

“‘What was that?’ Asked Beregond, ‘You also felt something?’

‘Yes,’ muttered Pippin. ‘It is the sign of our fall, and the shadow of doom, a Fell Rider of the air.’

‘Yes, the shadow of doom,’ said Beregond. ‘I fear that Minas Tirith shall fall. Night comes. The very warmth of my blood seems stolen away.’

For a time they sat together with bowed heads and did not speak. Then suddenly Pippin looked up and saw that the sun was still shining and the banners still streaming in the breeze. He shook himself. ‘It is passed,’ he said. ‘No, my heart will not yet despair. Gandalf fell and has returned and is with us. We may stand, if only on one leg, or at least be left still upon our knees.’” (7)

As it was for Pippin, so can it be with us. Our testimonies of Christ and His resurrection can sustain us in our trials and challenges. It can bring us hope. We know how our stories end. We know who wins. All our trials will end and we will enter into His rest. Because of Christ, we can also know what we are supposed to be doing right now. And having this knowledge can bring us confidence and hope. The prophet Joseph Smith taught, “such was, and always will be, the situation of the saints of God, that unless they have an actual knowledge that the course they are pursuing is according to the will of God they will grow weary in their minds, and faint.” (8) We are entitled to know by revelation what the Lord’s will is for us specifically. This is how we “live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God” (D&C 84:44).

This is my favorite part about the story of Ammon and the servants at the water of Sebus. Ammon is confident and full of so much hope, he can see opportunity in trials. He is this way because of revelation. He knows what God wants him to do. His father, king Mosiah, prayed and received direction from the Lord (Mosiah 28:6-7). Ammon and his brothers were sent by revelation (Alma 17:11) to the Lamanites and they were given promises (Mosiah 28:6-7). When difficulties arose, Ammon was not shaken, because he knew he was on the Lord’s errand. His confidence compared to the other servants at the waters of Sebus is so stark, it is comical.

Therefore, as Ammon and the servants of the king were driving forth their flocks to this place of water, behold, a certain number of the Lamanites, who had been with their flocks to water, stood and scattered the flocks of Ammon and the servants of the king, and they scattered them insomuch that they fled many ways. Now the servants of the king began to murmur, saying: Now the king will slay us, as he has our brethren because their flocks were scattered by the wickedness of these men. And they began to weep exceedingly, saying: Behold, our flocks are scattered already. Now they wept because of the fear of being slain. Now when Ammon saw this his heart was swollen within him with joy; for, said he, I will show forth my power unto these my fellow-servants, or the power which is in me, in restoring these flocks unto the king, that I may win the hearts of these my fellow-servants, that I may lead them to believe in my words. And now, these were the thoughts of Ammon, when he saw the afflictions of those whom he termed to be his brethren. (Alma 17:27-30)

Our experiences living by revelation will also give us faith and hope. When we have proven how “faithful” the Lord is to His servants (1 Corinthians 10:13), us, we will also become more faithful to Him. These experiences with God can inform our hopes, so when new trials come upon us, we can see them as opportunities to manifest God’s power. We can also see this at work in the story of the young shepherd David. When he sees the giant Goliath defying the armies of the Lord, he volunteers. He knows that the Lord will deliver him. He has history with the Lord. When Saul expressed doubts about sending a youth out to battle Goliath, David rehearsed two experiences when the Lord delivered David from harm: once against a lion and once against a bear (see 1 Samuel 17:34-37).

We too can compile our past successful experiences with the Lord into a portfolio of sorts, to bring out when we need to encourage ourselves or others. In this way, we can “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh [us] a reason of the hope that is in [us]” (1 Peter 3:15).

However, even with the memories of our previous successes, sometimes when we face Goliaths, we can still “misread” the situation. In fact, the scholar Malcolm Gladwell has argued that we may even be reading the David and Goliath conflict all wrong. (9) David with his sling actually had the advantage on that battlefield. A stone in the right person’s sling could have the equivalent “stopping power” of “a fair-size modern handgun.” Goliath has brought a sword to a metaphorical gun fight; it is actually the giant who should be terrified, not David. Gladwell reminds us that “the powerful and the strong are not always what they seem.”

The story of David teaches us repeatedly to look beyond the surface (1 Samuel 16:1-13). In this story, we can see ourselves as David, but we can also see Jesus as David. When we are up against giants in our lives, like the Israelite army, we can become scared. We may even doubt that Jesus has the power to deliver us from our challenges. But in the same way that David had the obvious and clear advantage over Goliath from the beginning, we can misread our own situations and forget that Christ is God. And “with God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:37). He is “mighty to save” (2 Nephi 31:19). We can trust Him and have a “perfect brightness of hope” through his atonement (2 Nephi 31:20).


(1) J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King (New York; Houghton Mifflin Company, 1994), 838.

(2) https://www.polygon.com/platform/amp/lord-of-the-rings/22353128/denethor-lotr-movies-story-doomscrolling

(3) Russell M. Nelson, “Make Time for the Lord,” (October 2021).

(4) https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1018&context=ballardbrief

(5) Russell M. Nelson, “The Temple and Your Spiritual Foundations,” (October 2021)

(6) Neal A. Maxwell, “Hope through the Atonement of Jesus Christ,” (October 1998).

(7) J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King, 749.

(8) Joseph Smith Jr., Lectures on Faith, 6:4-7.

(9) Malcolm Gladwell, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2013),6.

(10) Gladwell, David and Goliath, 11.

(11) Gladwell, David and Goliath, 14-15.


Women’s Conference 2023

I had the enjoyable opportunity to teach a class on scripture reading. What follows is the material I prepared for the class:

Choose to Be Holy: Practical Strategies to Elevate Our Scripture Study and Make Us Holy (Beyond the Text)

A lot of learning is perspective and depends heavily on our approach to a given subject. As a foundational principle I would propose the following relationship exists between the scriptures and God; that is our treatment of the scriptures equates, on some level, to our treatment of God. When Nephi discussed his own mission of writing scripture, he equated the scriptures with God:

“For the things which some men esteem to be of great worth, both to the body and soul, others set at naught and trample under their feet. Yea, even the very God of Israel do men trample under their feet; I say, trample under their feet but I would speak in other words—they set him at naught, and hearken not to the voice of his counsels.” (1 Nephi 19:7)

—- a similar statement can be found in D&C 1:38, where the voice of God’s servants is equated with the Lord’s voice.

We can get more out of our scripture study if we approach them like we would if we approached the Lord. In this way, we can sanctify our scripture study and ourselves; we can choose to be holy by humbling ourselves before God and His word. One of my favorite scriptures is a reminder to me to be humble; it is in Christ’s voice, “Learn of me, and listen to my words; walk in the meekness of my Spirit, and you shall have peace in me” (D&C 19:23). Humility, unlike humiliation, is a choice we make. It is a gift we give to God and ourselves.

For ease of discussion on approaching scriptures, I have artificially broken up this study (our approach) into three positions: beyond the text, above the text, and at the text.

Beyond the text

By “beyond the text” I am imagining myself looking towards the scriptures, but beyond or below the ink and the paper. I am focusing on the source of scripture, I am looking for God.

Restoration scripture especially promotes revelation in preparation for an encounter with God. “And there were many whose faith was so exceedingly strong, even before Christ came, who could not be kept from within the veil, but truly saw with their eyes the things which they had beheld with an eye of faith, and they were glad” (Ether 12:19). Visualizing this encounter (ie. imagining Him) and becoming comfortable with the idea of being in God’s presence can occur as we approach Him through the scriptures.

We need to have experiences with God. We should expect revelation/communication with God when we read the scriptures. “Understand that in the absence of experiences with God, one can doubt the existence of God. So, put yourself in a position to begin having experiences with Him. Humble yourself. Pray to have eyes to see God’s hand in your life and in the world around you. Ask Him to tell you if He is really there—if He knows you. Ask Him how He feels about you. And then listen” (President Russell M. Nelson, “Come Follow Me,” April 2019).

Reading the scriptures can acquaint us with the Lord’s voice. Consider the following verses in Doctrine and Covenants 18:34-36. According to his great-great nephew Elder S. Dilworth Young, “Brigham Young was so impressed by [these verses] that he copied [them] in his laborious handwriting into his diary,” when he heard them read by Oliver Cowdery in 1829.

Elder S. Dilworth Young then taught, “The thing that impresses me about this is, and I have never thought of it before, when I read a verse in the Doctrine and Covenants I am hearing the voice of the Lord as well as reading his words, if I hear by the Spirit. Now I have heard it said many times by men that they have often asked the Lord for a special testimony and oftentimes haven’t had it. They seem to want to hear the voice of the Lord. I confess I have often wanted to hear the voice of the Lord, without knowing that all these years I have been hearing it with deaf ears. This woke me up” (S. Dilworth Young, “Ye Have Heard My Voice,” April 1963).

—— “We become acquainted with Him and His voice as we study and feast upon His word in the scriptures, (2 Nephi 32:3; D&C 18:34-36)” (Elder David A. Bednar, “If Ye Had Known Me,” October 2016).

—— “We talk to God through prayer. He most often communicates back to us through His written word. To know what the voice of the Divine sounds and feels like, read His words, study the scriptures, and ponder them” (Elder Richard G. Scott, “Make the Exercise of Faith Your First Priority,” October 2014).

“When we want to speak to God, we pray. And when we want Him to speak to us, we search the scriptures.” (Elder Robert D. Hales, “Holy Scriptures: The Power of God unto Our Salvation,” October 2006.)

Above the text

Above the text refers to us, what we do outside the scriptures to prepare for studying the scriptures. Here are a few strategies for us.

• We need to make time for the scriptures.

• We need to repent, frequently, deeply, whole-heartedly…

• We need to avoid activities that estrange the Holy Spirit

• We need to get in the habit of thinking about the scriptures when we have nothing to think about

• Take notes when we read (especially note revelation we receive)

• Do something “unprecedented” (refer to workbook document for some suggestions)

“I plead with you today to counter the lure of the world by making time for the Lord in your life—each and every day. If most of the information you get comes from social or other media, your ability to hear the whisperings of the Spirit will be diminished. If you are not also seeking the Lord through daily prayer and gospel study, you leave yourself vulnerable to philosophies that may be intriguing but are not true” (President Russell M. Nelson, “Make Time for the Lord,” October 2021).

If you find yourself pulling out social media feeds or news feeds automatically throughout the day when you have a spare moment, this may be a sign that you are overly dependent on them. Instead, consider pondering gospel topics or scripture phrases, “treasure up in your minds continually the words of life” (D&C 84:85).

Here is a great strategy for reading the scriptures for doctrine:

“As you seek spiritual knowledge, search for principles. Carefully separate them from the detail used to explain them. Principles are concentrated truth, packaged for application to a wide variety of circumstances. A true principle makes decisions clear even under the most confusing and compelling circumstances. It is worth great effort to organize the truth we gather to simple statements of principle. I have tried to do that with gaining spiritual knowledge. The result is now shared in hope that it will be a beginning place for your study” (Elder Richard G. Scott, “Acquiring Spiritual Knowledge,” October 1993).


“We love him, because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)

What principle can we pull out of this very short verse? What does this say about God’s love?

How do we apply this to us?

How do I teach this principle?

Extension: what other principles does this connect to?

“And now, my sons, I speak unto you these things for your profit and learning; for there is a God, and he hath created all things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are, both things to act and things to be acted upon…Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself.” (2 Nephi 2:14,16)

For an example analysis for 1 John 4:19: https://nathanwritesstuff.com/2018/05/08/love-first-love-last/

“No message appears in scripture more times, in more ways than, “Ask, and ye shall receive.” (Matt. 21:22; James 4:3; 1 Jn. 3:22; 1 Ne. 15:11; Enos 1:15; Mosiah 4:21; D&C 4:7; and Moses 6:52 are examples.)” Boyd K. Packer, “Reverence Invites Revelation,” (October 1991). We need to ask more as we ponder the scriptures. It is important to go beyond the question “what does this mean” to asking “what more can this mean” or “what else am I missing” during our reading.

It is instructive to note that in Christ’s mortal ministry, his audiences were often confused by what he taught. Even his own disciples misunderstood his teachings. It is very possible that we might be missing meaning from our studies as well. It is okay to be confused, confusion should be a state of anticipation (D&C 123:17)

Much of the success of our scripture studies will depend on us, our efforts. “…it is now time that we each implement extraordinary measures—perhaps measures we have never taken before—to strengthen our personal spiritual foundations. Unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures” (President Russell, “The Temple and Your Spiritual Foundation,” October 2021). Try something new, something bold in your studies today.

It is my personal opinion that the most significant thing we can do to improve our scripture study is to repent and humble ourselves.

At the text

“At the text” refers to us reading the text of scriptures. The text connects us to the unnamed and named editors of the scriptures. A good approach to the text is to focus on the narrators, ask ourselves why they chose to include certain content and omit others. It is good to remember that they are ancient and lived lives almost inconceivably different from ours. It’s beneficial to attempt to understand their world from their eyes.

Scholarly approaches can enhance our worship. I love this quote: “For a disciple of Jesus Christ, academic scholarship is a form of worship” —Elder Neal A. Maxwell. We can go too far with scholarship; however, so I think prioritizing devotion and discipleship over scholarship is a good approach.

The single best thing I have learned from academia is how to read. We, as modern readers from the western world, have to change our approach to reading scripture. “Accustomed as we are to reading narratives in which there is much denser specification of fictional data, we have to learn…to attend more finely to the complex, tersely expressive details of the Biblical text” (Robert Alter-see resources).

Another thing we must be aware of is our own bias, we are approaching a Hebrew text from a Greek literary tradition. The “…difference can be summed up in one sentence: ‘the Greek demonstrates, the Jew indicates’. The Greek intends to convince his hearers, to lead them along a straight line, by means of logical reasoning, following a demonstration based on a whole series of proofs, to a conclusion which ought to compel them to agree. The Jew, on the contrary, is content to show the way which the one wishing to understand may take.”

The approach to reading the Old Testament is directly applicable to reading the Book of Mormon or the New Testament, because these all come from the same unique literary ancestry.

Let’s look at some specific examples of reading strategies;

An artistic element used by Hebrew writers is the art of gaps, meaning their choice to omit specific things the reader might expect. Grant Hardy (see resources) points out that Nephi tells us a lot about his roles as a son and a brother, but Nephi tells us very little about his own family (wife and children). He doesn’t pass the plates to his son. He doesn’t pass the kingship on to a son. Why? Did something happen to his sons? He doesn’t say. And although he records blessings for his brothers, he doesn’t record his own blessing from his father. These are gaps, ones that should cause the reader some reflection. We will not necessarily find a specific answer, but Hebrew artistry is not always intended to lead us to a specific answer. (I would like to point out that I don’t agree with all of Grant Hardy’s findings, but his approach is noteworthy-I highly recommend his book).

Repetition is a common practice in Hebrew scripture, we need to look for the subtle variations that occur within repeated elements and ask ourselves why the narrator made this decision. Meier Sternberg (see resources) points out that in the repetition occurring in the multiple reports of the murder of Naboth in 1 Kings 21:13-16 the unnamed narrator characterizes Jezebel and king Ahab. The narrator reports Naboth’s murder, then the details, almost verbatim, are reported to Jezebel, Jezebel waters down the murder to Ahab, and directs Ahab on what to do next. You can see in this repetition the strength of Jezebel and the weakness in Ahab, neither qualities are being used to do what is right, of course.

Because the Bible and Book of Mormon are so lacking in description, when they do include a description it is important to note. For example, Robert Alter (see resources) observes that the epithets used by the Biblical narrator for Michal seem designed to orient us to Michal’s changing role as the story of king David unfolds. Michal is variously called David’s wife or Saul’s daughter at key points in the narrative to accentuate her roles. A very telling use of her epithet as “Saul’s daughter” is used when she criticizes David’s dancing in 2 Samuel 6.

There are so many reading strategies outlined by scholarly literature, but suffice it to say, the Bible and the Book of Mormon are worthy of renewed reading; they are works of art, not primitive fables, that have often gone unrecognized for centuries. Enjoy them!

Resources (Consider using your local interlibrary loan system to rent any of the resources below)

churchofjesuschrist.org there is so much to explore here!

• Scripture citation index (app) or website: https://scriptures.byu.edu

Richard C. Galbraith spent 50 years of daily study to provide a scripture index to all the General Conference talks given by General Authorities. Today his “labor of love” is available for free as an app or via a website, where you can pick any scripture verse and see what any General Authority has said about that scripture in general conference. https://www.deseret.com/faith/2020/11/4/21536685/50-years-scripture-citation-index-gospel-study-journal-discourses-joseph-smith-lds-mormon-galbraith

https://www.blueletterbible.org/ (for language study of the texts of the Bible; you can do word studies in Hebrew or Greek, you can compare translations of the Bible, etc)

• Learn how to read Hebrew narratives (which is the style that the Old and New Testaments are written, as well as the Book of Mormon)

• Robert Alter, The Art of Biblical Narrative, Revised Edition, (New York: Basic Books, 2011)

• Meier Sternberg, The Poetics of Biblical Narrative: Ideological Literature and the Drama of Reading (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1985)

• Mark Allen Powell, “What Is Narrative Criticism?” (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Fortress Press, 1990)

• Grant Hardy, Understanding the Book of Mormon: A Reader’s Guide (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010)

• the BYU Maxwell Institute Brief Theological Introduction to the Book of Mormon series

• An introduction to the church academic world—the Book of Mormon Studies: An Introduction and Guide (Religious Studies Center, June 9, 2022)

• There a tons of scripture commentaries or helps. Consider James E. Faulconer’s MADE HARDER series, it can help you think harder about the scriptures

• Links to faithful scholarship: the Interpreter Foundation https://journal.interpreterfoundation.org/journal/ (free) or the journal of Book of Mormon Studies https://www.press.uillinois.edu/journals/?id=jbms (requires a subscription)

• Podcasts like Follow Him are also great resources

Choose To Be Holy: Workbook

“…it is now time that we each implement extraordinary measures—perhaps measures we have never taken before—to strengthen our personal spiritual foundations. Unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures” (President Russell, “The Temple and Your Spiritual Foundation,” October 2021).

Here are some starter ideas to help you take extraordinary measures or come up with your own ideas in your scripture studies:

• Parley P. Pratt challenge: set aside as much time as you can and read the scriptures for as long as you can without interruption

• Make a goal to read the whole standard works in a certain amount of time (or a goal to read a certain volume of scripture) there are a ton of resources online to keep track

• Get caught up on church scholarship by reading articles from the Interpreter Foundation on https://journal.interpreterfoundation.org/journal/ (free) or the journal of Book of Mormon Studies https://www.press.uillinois.edu/journals/?id=jbms (requires a subscription)

• Research and write a response to a current criticism of the scriptures, the church, or belief in God for your own edification

• Keep a scripture reading journal

• President Russell M. Nelson challenge: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/inspiration/i-studied-more-than-2-200-scriptures-about-the-savior-in-six-weeks-here-is-a-little-of-what-i-learned?lang=eng

• Take a segment of scripture, a few verses or a chapter, and translate them into modern English

• Write a journal entry or entries as if writing scripture for your descendants

• Choose an apostle to research: read every General Conference talk by this apostle, identify their favorite topics, rhetorical strategies, individual writing styles, favorite scriptures, etc, and then try to write in their style. Here is my attempt to write like Elder Neal A. Maxwell: https://nathanwritesstuff.com/2016/04/24/the-wind-bloweth-where-it-listeth-following-the-spirit/

• Take a segment of scripture, a few verses or a chapter, remove the punctuation, and then try to re-punctuate that segment.

• Color code your scriptures topically: find a system online

• Research the available resources on the church’s website: churchofjesuschrist.org you may be surprised at how much is available

• Create a scripture reading club and enjoy reading and discussing the scriptures together

• Write a short story that takes place in scriptural times and settings

• Research and write devotional articles on gospel topics (go deeper than you have ever gone before)

• Interview your one of your congregations scriptorians about their scripture reading habits, experiences, etc

• Keep a question journal. Write down every question that comes to your mind as you read a chapter, then answer one of those questions per chapter