Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Letters to a Young Mormon

I wanted to say thank you to those who wrote such sweet, supportive comments here yesterday. I felt very safe and loved. Thank you for your respect. I feel privileged that you'd spend even a few of your moments here on my blog. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. And now!...A SHORT BOOK REVIEW:

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I was sent this book by the great Blair Hodges late last year. I read it in maybe two days and then urged my husband to read it as soon as possible so we could discuss.

But he hasn't.

I found it on his side of the bed where I put it last. (And modeled it down below)(Do I make a good book model?)(You like it don't you?)

So, will you read it so we can discuss?

It's a compilation of letters written by Adam S. Miller to his children about Mormonism. There are twelve letters with twelve subjects ranging from science to sin. It's philosophical, generous and tastes like C. S. Lewis. Although the intended audience is youth, I felt it was pretty advanced in theory--and perhaps better read by parents of youth. However, I wouldn't think twice about giving this book to the teenagers in my life for discussion and debate. I do think it's more elevated than most of the church-related materials they are given presently. And for some, that's a good thing.

On Faith:

"Faith isn't a way of going to sleep. It's the work of waking up. And, in order to wake up, you'll need both great faith and great doubt. In itself, doubt is neither good or bad. Its value depends on what you do with it."

On Sin:

"Shame and guilt are life's way of protesting against the constriction of the too-tight story you're busy telling about it."

On Hunger:

"Living the gospel means learning how to live. It means learning to eat and sleep. Plant yourself in your hunger and let your life grow out of it."

After almost every chapter I had a deep urge to cry at the beauty of what I read. It's a great feast for thinkers. It eases my anxiety that the marriage of intellect and belief in my head will never be reconciled. This book was like a mediator between the two. And when my intellect and my beliefs get along I feel deep joy.

And the chapter on sex is phenomenal. It's remarkable. Indelible.

The book is published by the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship and you can get it here. Put it on your shelf next to The God Who Weeps. That's a great start to a solid collection.

Can't wait to hear what you think...

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(Purple glasses.)


cheryl cardall said...

What do you mean by more elevated than the materials they are given now? I'm betting it's more intellectual which means better than words of the prophets and apostles? I'm not against inspiration from sources other than those but when you elevate those sources above that it's a slippery slope.

C. Jane Kendrick said...

Let's calm down.

More elevated doesn't mean better than, it means that it will speak to some youth who thrive on a more philosophical discussions than they are presently given.

Not all youth learn the same way. When I was a YW I couldn't handle EFY. It made me angry. I bet there are other youths out there like me. AND THAT'S OK.

cheryl cardall said...

Oh I'm calm, elevated actually means above.

Quinne said...

I listened to his interview with John Dehlin and found it very interesting. I remember there being some things he said that I disagreed with and some things that I liked. Nevertheless it opened my mind and I'm thankful for ideas and thoughts about how to raise children with more open discussions about church, God, and everything else.

It's difficult to speak openly and find people with similar ideas and thoughts. I appreciate your post yesterday and I really appreciated the comments that maybe didn't agree but we're so loving and kind. There needs to be so muh more of that.

I love a good book club discussion so I'll read the book. Too bad I live in Vegas cause it would be so uplifting to get together with people who want to talk about things the way I want to talk about things. Thanks CJane!

Ashley said...

I've only read the first chapter (well, my husband read it out loud to me as we were driving to visit Utah last week--where he actually met the author at a gathering in Provo), but I like it so far and it is on my to-finish list. I'm currently reading Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey. I bet you'd love that too.

Rachel Haack said...

I'm IN LOVE WITH THIS BOOK. I've been a fan of Miller's work and ordered it right when it released.
I feel starved for this kind of thought and conversation within the culture at large.

Debbie said...

Cheryl Cardall,
I think you should just let her have an opinion and a voice. There are others reading her blog that her messages speak to. If more Mormon bloggers were like her being allowed to question, pray for an answer and speak their minds I might really consider looking into the church. People who make statements like yours make me want to run away...really fast. Leave her alone, she's working here. Stay strong CJane.

Em said...

in my amazon cart. CHECK!

Jessica said...

Excited to try this one! Have you read Choosing Glory by Lily Anderson? I heard her speak about the topic months ago and loved her insights. I could have listened to her all night. I think you would love it.

martha corinna said...

It is OK, I learned that from a very wise mission president who was a saving grace in my life. I have also learned that from my personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I love Adam's book and found great peace in it.

C. Jane Kendrick said...

I am so happy some of you have read it and some of you are willing to read it!

Quinne-I also found that there were things I didn't quite agree with as well, but I like you, it opened my mind. For that I can celebrate it.

C. Jane Kendrick said...

Debbie, thanks for your help. I appreciate it.

C. Jane Kendrick said...

I've always enjoyed hearing your perspective throughout the years. Thanks for still being here.

Yes, elevated means above. And I do think faithful religious philosophy is above general council in its ability to feed more inquiring minds. The same principles happen when missionaries get together with leadership--discussions are elevated above general council. It happens all the time in the church. It's the fulfillment of the Law of the Gospel--or line upon line, precept upon precept. It's the meat to the milk. And people are hungry for meat these days.

But you said "better than" and I am saying I don't think one is "better than" the other. I think each has its own purpose.

Also I am repenting for putting an "s" on the word "youth."

Laura said...

Adam Miller's book was published by the Maxwell Institute at BYU. I read "Letters to a Young Mormon" and it made me feel close to God. I love having a lay clergy, but sometimes I wish there were more church leaders with philosophical or theological training. Miller just expresses himself in a way that speaks to my soul. Proud to call him a fellow mormon.

Rachel said...

I love this book. It's very open ended and can handle multiple interpretations, so I'm looking forward to hearing what others think about it. Thanks for launching this!

Also, thanks for sharing your experience with Kate Kelly. I've watched this story unfold only online. Your personal experience was both heartbreaking and hopeful. I appreciate that you took the time to write and post about it.

Rachel Hunt said...

I read and loved this book, too. I wrote my thoughts about it at The Exponent blog:

My favorite letter was Prayer, though there were gems I appreciated in each. I imagine that I will come back to this little book many times.

Becca Johnson said...

"Elevated" can also mean more formal or theoretical, which is how, I believe, CJane was using it. Many words have many meanings.

cheryl cardall said...

I as an adult can certainly understand the nuances of the term "elevated", however youth may not be able to understand that and may consider that it is better than the words of the prophets. Youth need milk before meat. I will probably look into reading this book, I am actually quite open minded...even if I am quite set in my own beliefs.

Maggie said...

Thanks for this. You caught me at "philosophical, generous and tastes like C.S. Lewis." I'm looking forward to the read.

This is kind of related in a trying to figure out how to help my children think critically about their faith way. I grew up in the church but in a part of Canada where the church is smaller. EFY was not available to me, so I really don't know that much about it. My children will soon be EFY age and we had planned to offer them the opportunity. Would you mind sharing what about EFY was not good for you? I would so appreciate your point of view.

Also, I dig your "s" on "youth."

Mari Roll said...

Although I am not LDS, I will read this. I am a questioning LDS.

Elizabeth said...

Your writing makes me want to read it, and to tell you the truth, my interest in Mormonism is really only a vague one. You make it stronger. And I adore the purple glasses. Oh, and I was intimidated to leave a comment on that long string of them yesterday, but I think that was my favorite thing you've ever written. I am not Mormon and would never opine about it, but I am most impressed and moved by your gentleness and holy spirit. Thank you.

Kate said...

My sister just sent me a comment from carrot jello and I don't see it here- but I echo her comment. I hope that you will find the peace that you are searching for in your quest for spirituality. As for now I bid your blog goodbye because it is taking a different direction that is not helping in my own eternal progression.

Sharlee said...

My husband and I just finished reading this book with our 16-year-old son. All three of us loved it. My favorite chapter was "Scripture." "Strap the bible to your forehead. Wear the Book of Mormon on your sleeve. Sleep with your scriptures under your pillow. Underline everything. Pack your margins with notes. Read Paul out loud like poetry. Copy the Book of Mormon by hand. Read the bible backwards one verse at a time. Tally their letters like numbers. Squeeze their verses like oranges. Know Isaiah by heart. Love Matthew like a brother . . ." Thanks for the review, Courtney.

Leslie said...

Yes, cheryl cardall, please "calm down". Your response was completely out of left field and in no way related to anything the author could have been trying to convey. PS - I think you hit a nerve.

Elizabeth said...

It sounds wonderful. Thanks for the recommendation. When I was spiritually starving on Church correlated materials (skim milk for the masses), I was led to Denver Snuffer books. He also has a blog. I suggest readers go back and start at the beginning! He's not a scholar. He's an angel - which is someone sent from heaven with a message from God. Anyway, maybe someone will see this, or you Courtney will be looking for something more. Joseph Smith said you could learn more in 5 minutes of gazing into heaven than you could reading all the books. That's why I'm always looking for messengers from Father. Xoxo

kristy said...

Thanks so much, I can't wait to read it! The God Who Weeps is now my favorite book ever. I would never had known about it, had you not shared about it on your blog! Thaks again!

a not so desperate housewife said...

i read it in a day...and then again the next day. i'm glad i found it when i did. i don't think my immature, adolescent self would have been able to digest it fully in a productive young adult, pre-mission self? definitely could have used it. so much of what miller offers are things i've often felt but not found anywhere else.

it may not be for everyone, but it IS a welcome and maybe even anxiously awaited source of peace and reconciliation for the ones of us who need it.

ps i don't comment much. i follow along though. and i'm continually inspired by your thoughtful bravery. i bet it can feel lonely. just wanted to say thank you for it all. said...

as a young girl, I discovered Eugene England and Lowell Bennion and they CHANGED MY LIFE. girl's camp made me angry, YW's made me angry, these books did not. they filled me up & made me feel a little bit less alone living in a very conservative (yet lovely!) home & small Mormon town. there are most certainly Mormon youth who feel like they are suffocating- maybe this book can be a much needed paper bag. maybe it will lead them down their own, fabulously slippery slope and maybe they will make their way to where they are supposed to be. that's what ended up happening for me and it's been heartbreaking and wonderful and liberating.

Kathryn said...

There is a reason church materials are made to be (for the most part) the basics. True knowledge has to be sought out, not handed to you. Being given just the basics encourages us to seek the answers on our own and try to communicate with our Father. Also we should not share all of our knowledge with everyone so we don't make people accountable for things they weren't ready to hear.

C. Jane Kendrick said... YES YES YES!

Becki said...

Thank you for the recommendation. I also couldn't handle EFY as a 15 year old, the only time I went, although I am glad for people who love it. I now have a 15 year old who is very precocious. Since primary, she has demanded the "new teaching curriculum" before it existed from all of her sunday school teachers. The regular manuals didn't give her enough substance. She has read all of the standard works in the past 6 months, something that I have never done. I am going to buy this book and read and discuss it with her. I think I will learn much.

The Queen Creek McLaws' said...

Wow. I thought you had a strong testimony of the church. But as I'm reading these last few posts, it just makes me cringe. Your so called revalations are to be sacred and I think u have gone too far with them to get ahead.

Anna said...

I put this book on my 'to read' list back when you posted this. I finally got the book from the library and read it this week. I loved it and would like to read it again, so I'll be buying my own copy. I, too, would like my friends to read it so that we can discuss! Thanks for the recommendation.

It makes me sad to read some of the comments left on this post. Why do some people feel that it is okay to criticize and attack you? People who are so outwardly judgmental and rude are what make ME cringe!

Lu, the historian and cat owner who loves chocolate said...

Kind of late here, but thank you for this book recommendation and the one about a short stay in hell. GREAT BOOKS for the outcasts of our Church. I truly enjoy each one, and the god who weeps. It's difficult to find good LDS literature for those of us who want to stay away fro the manuals, etc.
As a convert at the age of 24, with a huge non LDS background (and no regrets about it) and a professional career to love -Historian- I felt urged to find what others, not the "approved" Mormons had to say on faith, life and each other. Be a Mormon and staying Mormon is my everyday fight. And I love fights where I feel my heart beating.
Take care,

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