Christians are to be Christ-like. One of the best way to do so is by performing service. During His earthly ministry, not only did Christ teach and preach, but He served others: He healed the sick, ate with the poor and sinners, and forgave. He is our King, Lord, and Savior. But, He acted as a servant during His life: during the Last Supper, He washed the feet of His disciples! We should follow His example of having a servant’s heart.
It’s a new year. I know a lot of bloggers have a list of books they want to read, already. I do too. It’s called, “all the books on my bookshelf that I own and have never read yet.” That was basically the same plan for last year, too. But, I love to include a library book now and then, or a book from Blogging for Books. I’ve even done some book reviews for Cedar Forts Publishing, which is a Mormon-owned (not Church-owned) publishing company. This month, I was actually contacted by the author or publisher of both books I read for Reading Roundup.
Another month gone, holy cow! They are going so fast, I can’t believe it! I read a total of 3 books this month’s reading roundup and I’m so happy I’m done with Rough Stone Rolling because I can finally move on to the rest of my bookshelves!
Rough Stone Rolling by Richard Lyman Bushman
It has actually taken me little more than a year to read this book. Last year when I had my faith crisis, my Bishop mentioned reading this book. He knew that I was historically minded and that a lot of my questions and doubts had to do with the limited primary sources and actual facts of the early LDS Church and some decisions and preachings by early presidents of the church and other prolific members. Now, I have no doubt that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God and that he saw our Savior and translated the Book of Mormon. But, it does seem in our church that we revere him. We don’t revere any of the biblical or Book of Mormon prophets, or even any of the other Latter-Day prophets like we do him. And, there is so much antagonism against him. Also, there just isn’t a lot of facts that we are absolutely 100% sure of. So, my thoughts and feelings of him as a person, his decisions, and the early church as a whole was a little ambiguous.
The book, from a historical point of view, was very enlightening. It is a “cultural biography”, which means that the author tries to show how the culture of Joseph Smith’s day influenced and affected him. I definitely learned a lot I didn’t know about the culture of New England and the mid-west in the 1830-40s, as well as many facts about Joseph Smith and his family. A lot of times in this book, I found myself saying, “ok, that explains it,” or “that wasn’t as bad as people make it out to be.” A lot of times, direct quotes from Joseph Smith about doctrine or Gospel principles or attitudes and philosophies that Mormons should have made me want to shout out, “Thank you! If only modern-day Mormons realized this!!!” But, there were still some parts that made me cringe a bit about his decisions or double think his character or motivation. Really, it made me feel extremely bad for Emma as his wife. It also made me just sad for Joseph–he may have helped to restore Christ’s church and priesthood on the Earth, but he was definitely not as infallible or pure as many in the Church want to believe.
I realize that the LDS Church’s history is grimy and iffy, and that’s something I’m going to have to live with my entire life. But, I do know that the basic Gospel truth taught by this church is true. And, regardless of how I may feel about Joseph Smith, I am glad I got to know him better than I previously did.
Doctor Who: The Visual Dictionary
We actually bought this book years ago when Matt Smith became the 11th doctor. We’ve both flipped through it a few times, but I have never actually sat down and read it cover to cover. I decided to put it in the bathroom to read while Rhys was taking a bath or trying to go on his training potty, or for my own entertainment. It was fun to relive the 9th, 10th, and 11th Doctors and looking back at the different episodes and characters.
This book is set up like a children’s Discovery World books I used to check out from the library as a kid. It’s mostly pictures with captions. Rhys has also gotten in the habit of flipping through it. I’ve started teaching him the different characters in Doctor Who. He knows Daleks are robots, and that the Weeping Angels either look like they are crying or going “boo”. He also knows who Davros, creator of the Daleks, is and can say his name. It’s so cute!
Defenders of the Family by Benjamin Hyrum White
** I received a copy of this book from Cedar Forts Publishing in exchange for a review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.**
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints feels very strongly about gender identity and the importance of family. In 1994, the First Presidency of the church created a document called Family: A Proclamation to the World to explain our beliefs. Almost every Mormon family has it hanging somewhere in their house.
This books is a children’s book, in the form of a comic book, and teaches the principles of the Family Proclamation.
I loved the illustrations and how White made it simple for little kids to understand. When I received my copy in the mail, Rhys helped me open it and was excited to see that it was a book. He sat by me and let me read the entire thing to him. I am so glad that I have this book on my shelves now for my children as they grow up. It’s also a perfect book to take to Sacrament Meeting for your kids!
Find out more about Benjamin Hyrum White here.
What books did you read this month?
Well, it typically seems like when my interests online wane, my interest in reading waxes. This month for the Reading Roundup, I actually read and completed four books! I’m so proud of myself! However, one isn’t pictured below because it was an e-book.
Why Not Me by Mindy Kaling
I had loved reading Mindy’s first book, so I was excited to read this book, especially since I had watched all of the Mindy Project. This one was a bit more thematic, especially when it came to the empowerment of women and working hard to follow after your dreams. Mindy talked a lot about how she still is an ordinary person, and to be honest, I believe it. She was very clear on her sometimes disdain for her body, looks, and eating habits. I liked this book a whole lot more than her first. I feel like I really caught a glimpse of her in real life and separated that from her Mindy character–and that was a big point of hers. She hated being seen as Mindy Lahiri in real life.
Miriam: Book 2 of Treasures of the Nile by Mesu Andrews
* I received this book from bloggingforbooks.com in exchange for a review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*
This is the second in Andrews’s Treasures of the Nile series. I read and reviewed her first book, The Pharaoh’s Daughter, and when I found out that she was writing a second, but it wouldn’t be published until 2016, I couldn’t wait. So, I was very excited to read this one!
Miriam takes place a long time after the first book. Miriam is now 80 rather than the young woman helping to raise her brother Moses and keeping his birth a secret. Moses has already run away to Midian for 40 years. Miriam is known as a seeress, a prophetess, able to communicate with El Shaddai–an ancient name for the Hebrew God. But, He has recently been quiet towards her…and then Moses returns with the news that Yahweh, El Shaddai’s true name, has communicated with him and told him to free the Hebrew slaves. The book follows Miriam as she struggles with her new relationship with a suddenly unknown God and her nephew (Aaron’s son), Eleazar, a slave-warrior who is the body guard to Pharaoh’s first born son and how he grapples with loyalty and protection and believing in his Hebrew heritage’s religion.
Again, Andrews did a great job developing her characters. I loved seeing Miriam struggle with her personal relationship with God. It was so poignant. He never changed, but her understanding of Him did and that was hard for her to grasp. It really spoke to me because of my trial of faith last year. However, I did feel that the book followed Eleazar more than Miriam. And, as the 10 plagues of Egypt continued, Andrews seemed to speed up the pacing, which was a bit sad. However, I do really hope that she writes a third about the 40 year journey in the wilderness!
The Devil in Vienna by Doris Orgel
This is a WWII book, as is obvious by the front cover. Inge, a Austrian Jew, has to say good-bye to her best friend, Leisolette, as she moves to Germany to go to a Hitler Youth program against her will. Inge receives a journal from her grandpa and writes her feelings about the fast changes of Austrian nationalism to complete acceptance of Hitler’s idealism.
I did feel like the author tried to make it Anne Frank-ish, but with a hint more sarcasm as Inge makes fun of the idea of naming a journal, etc. Also, the back cover leads the reader to think that Inge and Leisolette’s “forbidden” friendship is the main plot of the story, but it really is only mention in the very beginning of the book, then the last 1/3 of the book. However, it was a quick read and I didn’t like putting it down. A lot of it was open and honest, like Anne Frank’s journal because Orgel said that this book was based off many experiences she had herself as a young Jew in Austria during Hitler’s raise to power.
Understanding Your Endowment by Cory B. Jensen
This is a Mormon book, with Mormon theology in it, so I’m sorry if it isn’t of interest to my other readers. But, it was definitely of interest to me.
For those who don’t understand, the endowment is the “ritual” of ordinances and covenants we make the first time we go through an LDS temple. A lot of it is very confusing to those who go through for the first time. Mainly, because we aren’t really sure what to expect. What happens in an LDS temple is personal and sacred dealing with our personal relationship with Christ and understanding His saving Grace and His plan for us on a deeper, more intimate level. Because of this sacredness, we don’t really discuss much about it outside of the temple–it’s sacred, not secret.
I, personally, received my endowment four years ago, a week before I got married. I have been through the temple numerous times since then, repeating these ordinances and watching a sister-in-law, a brother, and a sister go through their own endowments. Every single time I go, I experience and learn something new–that is the point of the endowment. However, it also happens to be a point of questioning for many. Many think it is too Mason-based, some think it is ridiculous, some don’t understand the deeper levels, etc. That is why I was really interested in reading this book. Although I will be the first to admit that I don’t understand everything about the endowment or the reasons behind it, I do feel pretty comfortable with it. I wasn’t necessarily confused the first time I went through. But, that is because I am very good with symbolism and its intertwining with history. It’s always been an interest of mine. Yet, this past year, I’ve been trying to understand my faith and beliefs on a deeper level. And that’s what I liked about this book. Jensen tries to peel back layer after layer and made you realize that each part of the endowment meant, symbolized, promised, and required numerous different things. It was real interesting to think of the endowment in some different ways I never had before. I suggest all Mormons read this book! Honestly, it should be part of Temple Prep curriculum!
What books did you read this month?
I never once in my life lacked a testimony of God, the Father, His Only Begotten Son and our Savior Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. I have always known that I am a Child of God, and it is through the Atonement and Grace of Christ we are saved. I have always believed in the Bible and the Book of Mormon.
Yup. The Book of Mormon. Yup. I am a Mormon. And, I am a Christian. I have been both my entire life, and will be forever more.
However, since I grew up in the Mormon Church, it wasn’t until recently that I developed my own testimony rather than relying on others and being content with my religious culture. I’m sure the same thing happens to anyone born into a family religion.
I have always had a thirst for learning–I relish in knowing about different cultures, religions, history. I am a life-long student (if I could be in college forever, studying topics of my choice for free, I would!). I have always been able to connect the dots between different sects, denominations, and religions. Learning about Jung’s theory on the Collective Unconscious, I became a fan of tolerance between all religions. They all stemmed from the same Adamic religion that God and Christ entrusted to Adam and his descendants. I know many people feel slighted when Mormons say that my religion is “the only true religion.” I don’t like that phrase. Through my studies of different world religions, esoteric history, symbols and myths, and my own knowledge of my religion, I have come to see that all religions have truth and light. Some may have more than others. I believe my religion has some priesthood keys and Gospel knowledge that others may not. But, I don’t believe that any religion is the “wrong” religion…
Read more at Life As Me.