The biggest story related to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, of late, has probably been the release — simultaneously, and in various formats, in Cebuano, Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Samoan, Spanish, Tagalog and Tongan — of Saints: The Standard of Truth: 1815-1846.
It’s the new official history of the Church. I’ve been reading it in little daily bits, and, as of this moment, I’m somewhat more than a quarter of the way through it.
I like it. I’m not “giddy” about it, as one almost-invariably-hyperventilating critic has mischaracterized my reaction. (He almost invariably misunderstands and misrepresents me.) But I like it.
It’s simply but well written. It addresses issues honestly, without evasion. It’s not an especially deep dive, in the words of the currently fashionable expression, but — particularly in its electronic versions — it can guide readers into a deeper or more detailed examination of specific issues if that’s their wish. Considering that it’s a book intended for a general audience, an audience that’s overwhelmingly made up of non-historians and non-academics, I think it’s pitched at pretty much the appropriate level. After all, the desire is that Church members (and others) actually read it.
I’ve read some really harsh responses to it from some critics of the Church. In some cases, they’re simply, dogmatically, certain that the Church always lies and that, accordingly, it must be lying now. (In that regard, their response is uncannily similar to the way that some of my personal critics view me — which isn’t always surprising, since some of them are the same people.) A few of them, at least, have plainly not even looked at a copy. And, among the really harsh critics who have looked at the book, there seems to me an unseemly eagerness to conclude that, if those who wrote the book don’t see things the way the critic does, that’s ipso facto proof of dishonesty and an intent to deceive. (Uncharitable, demonizing, and vicious discourse is scarcely confined to American politics these days.)
Anyway, I hope that everybody out there will get a copy of Saints and read it. Here’s how to obtain a copy:
A strong recommendation from a Jewish writer for tourists and visitors to and in San Diego:
Pass it on!
Incidentally, I agree that the Mormon Battalion Visitors Center is extremely well done. And the price of admission — it’s free — is quite affordable.
Also, speaking of free things, here’s a new item from the Interpreter Foundation:
Given its author, I confess that I was just a tad surprised (perhaps unfairly so) by what this column had to say:
This one was surprising, too, but for very different reasons:
Some of you are probably aware of Sam Young, the former Latter-day Saint bishop who is currently facing potential Church discipline for his actions related to bishops’ interviews of minors.
He and I had a brief email or Facebook interaction a year or two ago. (I can’t now recall which.) It extended over perhaps three days, and it wasn’t what some would expect. He contacted me, and we conversed briefly (and politely) about how nasty some people can be online. We both regret such unpleasantness.
On a perhaps slightly related matter, I was reminded earlier today of this piece from back in the summer of 2015: