Book Review: Our Heavenly Family, Our Earthly Families

I was pleasantly surprised when Deseret Book asked me if I would read and review a new children’s book. I have never reviewed a children’s book before, but was excited to try my hand at it. While my own children are now exiting their 30s, I recently was promoted off the High Council and into a Primary class, so feel adeptly qualified to give my impressions on all things related to very short people.

Our Heavenly Family Our Earthly Families

McArthur Krishna and Bethany Brady Spalding give us a promising and thoughtful book, “Our Heavenly Family, Our Earthly Families”. The artwork is done by Caitlin Connelly. Continue reading

Book Review: Joseph Smith’s Seer Stones

Book Review: Joseph Smith’s Seer Stones

Joseph Smith's Seer Stones
We live in a great time for Church history. The Church has opened their archives to create the Joseph Smith Papers Project. It now has official statements on controversial historical and doctrinal issues. It is embracing the Internet. It is now dealing with the skeletons that have been trying for decades to escape its archival closet.

With the new openness to history, the Church recently published a photograph and basic information regarding one of Joseph Smith’s Seer Stones (Ensign, Oct 2015, https://www.lds.org/ensign/2015/10/joseph-the-seer?lang=eng )

There clearly is a continued interest and need for a more thorough discussion of Seer Stones and Joseph Smith. Were there more than one? What is the provenance of these stones? How did Joseph use them? How important were the stones? What about magic and money digging? Continue reading

Special Interest Groups

Since the beginning of Civil Rights for women, blacks and other special classes, we’ve seen an explosion of new special classes with special rights and privileges not given to other classes.

With Gloria Steinem’s version of feminism came a movement that not only sought to bring equality, but to actually diminish other groups, white males, in particular. Over the decades, white males have seen their place in society diminish. Privileges, based usually on merit, were given to others based on special class. Men were denigrated, as many women felt that women needed men like a fish needed a bicycle (Gloria Steinem). With the off-putting of men, came a decline in their self-esteem, determination, role as father and husband, and key bread-winner. There are more women graduating from college and high school than men. Single mothers often are the norm, rather than traditional families with two parents (M/F). Many young men today find it easier to find escape from the role confusion by spending their lives in video games, porn, and other “safer” relationships.

In the last couple years, we’ve seen a new special class rocket to the top, which suddenly gives some men the opportunity to beat women at their own game. For those who watched the Growing Up Kardashian tv show, you saw lots of pretty women that did pretty much what they wanted, while Bruce Jenner stood in the background frustrated. No longer is this the case. With changing his sex and name to Caitlyn, Jenner now has as many photo ops as Kim Kardashian. Caitlyn was named “Woman of the Year”, something natural born women were used to winning in the past. Continue reading

Book Review: Adam S. Miller’s Future Mormon

Book Review: Future Mormon, Essays in Mormon Theology, by Adam S. Miller

When I first saw the title for this book, Future Mormon, I immediately thought of the title of another book I first read as a teenager in the 1970s, Future Shock by Alvin Toffler.  In Toffler’s book, he describes a future of rapid change, much of it caused by advancing technology, which he sees as causing psychological stress and instability in a society that struggles to keep up with all of the change.

Welcome to the present.  Welcome to 21st century Mormonism. Continue reading

Book Review: Nothing New Under the Sun, by Adam S. Miller

Just over a year ago, I reviewed Adam S. Mller’s recently released great little book, “Grace is not God’s Backup Plan”, a new paraphrase of the book of Romans, which helped to explain grace in useful terms.

Now, Adam does a similar paraphrase, but on what is perhaps the most dismal and depressing book in the Bible: Ecclesiastes. In fact, the full title of the book is, “Nothing New Under the Sun: a Blunt Paraphrase of Ecclesiastes“.  The word, “blunt” is very apt, as the Preacher does not mince words. Thankfully, Adam takes the teachings of the Preacher and paraphrases them, updating them to our day and expounding from within the paraphrase the key points of each chapter.

In my study and blogging on Ecclesiastes, I’ve noted how bleak the Preacher is. Adam, however, may have found the silver lining. He explains that while the Preacher does teach that there is “nothing new under the Sun” and that “all is vanity”, it is this very hopelessness that makes the book so important.

Discussing the human desire to avoid hardships, pessimism, and crassness (all found in Ecclesiastes), he notes: “But the cost of avoidance is high. As Paul insists, in order to become Christian, we must first learn to be hopeless. Hopelessness is the door to Zion.”

This immediately made me think of the prophecies of the last days, in which Zion will be established.

And the glory of the Lord shall be there, and the terror of the Lord also shall be there, insomuch that the wicked will not come unto it, and it shall be called Zion.

And it shall come to pass among the wicked, that every man that will not take his sword against his neighbor must needs flee unto Zion for safety. (D&C 45:67-68)

In this instance, the hope of Zion only comes after there is no other hope. And so it is with Adam’s paraphrase. Ecclesiastes means hopelessness, until combined with Paul’s teachings on hope and grace.

As with his paraphrase of Romans, his short discussion on Ecclesiastes is followed by a powerful paraphrase of each chapter. In fact, he shares it twice, once as prose and the second separated by verse.

For anyone wanting to better understand this ancient work, and how it aptly applies to our materialistic world today, I highly recommend this book, as well as Adam’s previous book, “Grace is Not God’s Backup Plan.

You may also want to read Adam’s excellent book, “Letters to a Young Mormon