“Until the Heart Betrays”: Life, Letters, and the Stories We Tell

Review of Adam S. Miller. Letters to a Young Mormon. Provo, Utah: Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, 2014. 78 pp. $9.95.

On their 1993 album Edge of Thorns, hard rock group Savatage included a piano ballad about a person and a letter:

Someone got themselves a letter,
in the mail the other day
It’s already worn and tattered,
and I guess it gives away
All the things we keep inside,
all the things that really matter
The face puts on its best disguise,
and all is well … until the heart betrays

Adam S. Miller’s new book is composed of a series of “letters” which, like the one in the song, contain both “the things we [tend to] keep inside,” and “the things that really matter.” Like the song, Miller talks about the disguises we wear—though he calls them our “stories,” which is his way of labeling self-justifications or self-deceptions for our deeds and hence way of living. And he talks about how our hearts should “betray” our [Page 148]rationalizing stories and turn to God, who sees us and loves us for what we can be or who we potentially are all along. Continue reading

Help for the Troubled “Young Mormon”

Review of Adam S. Miller, Letters to a Young Mormon. Provo, Utah: Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, 2014. 78 pp. $9.95.

Adam S. Miller has recently made a name for himself in Mormon intellectual circles by publishing a number of books in theology and philosophy. Miller, who holds a PhD in philosophy from Villanova University and is currently a professor of philosophy at Collin College in McKinney, Texas, adds to his list of publications with a new book published by the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship. This new book, Letters to a Young Mormon, is a short volume of some 80 pages that includes Miller’s ruminations on the following topics: agency (9-12), work (13-16), sin (17-23), faith (25-29), scripture (31-35), prayer (37-41), history (43-49), science (51-56), hunger (57-60), sex (61-66), temples (67-71), and eternal life (73-78). Continue reading

Enoch and Noah on Steroids

Review of Jeffrey M. Bradshaw and David J. Larsen, In God’s Image and Likeness 2: Enoch, Noah, and the Tower of Babel (Salt Lake City, Utah: The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2014), 590 pp. (full color interior includes footnotes; endnotes; three excursus sections; annotated bibliography on Enoch and the Flood; comprehensive reference list; thumbnail index of one hundred and eleven illustrations and photographs; and indexes of scriptures referenced, modern prophets quoted, and topics discussed). $49.99 (hardcover). Continue reading

Māori Latter-day Saint Faith: Some Preliminary Remarks

Review of Marjorie Newton, Tiki and Temple: The Mormon Mission in New Zealand, 1854–1958 (Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2012), xv + 328 pp. (including a glossary of Māori words, three appendices, bibliography, two maps, twenty-nine illustrations and a photography register, and index). $29.95 (paperback).

Abstract: Marjorie Newton’s widely acclaimed Tiki and Temple is a history of the first century of Latter-day Saint missionary endeavors in Aotearoa/New Zealand. She tells the remarkable story of what, beginning in 1881, rapidly became essentially a Māori version of the faith of Latter-day Saints. Her fine work sets the stage for a much closer look at the deeper reasons some Māori became faithful Latter-day Saints. It turns out that Māori seers (and hence their own prophetic tradition) was, for them, commensurate with the divine special revelations brought to them by LDS missionaries. Among other things, the arcane lore taught in special schools to an elite group among the Māori is now receiving close attention by Latter-day Saint scholars. Continue reading

Of Tolerance and Intolerance

Review of D. A. Carson. The Intolerance of Tolerance. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans, 2012. 186 pp. with indices of names, subjects and scriptures. $24.00 (hardback), $16.00 (paperback).

In graduate school I was disheartened to find that while the school promoted tolerance as the highest virtue, such tolerance was more often honored in the breach. Tolerance was used as an excuse for hatred and bigotry. This is because it is simply impossible to tolerate everything. One cannot tolerate both childhood innocence and pedophilia (to take an extreme example). One must choose what one will tolerate. In some cases the choice to tolerate some things will unavoidably and perhaps unintentionally cause us to cease to tolerate others. Continue reading