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Why I’m a Mormon is a collection of fascinating, individual journeys of faith by dozens of stalwart, modern Mormons—some prominent, others less well-known but no less impressive. Contributors share brief reflections on how their feelings about the gospel and their involvement in the Church have shaped and enriched their lives. These vignettes are from Latter-day Saints who are faithfully and successfully navigating these troubled, secular, sometimes dark and temptation laden times. The book includes expressions from successful business leaders, entertainers, sports figures, authors, and many others.
- Size: 6 x 9
- Pages: 320
- Released: 01/2012
About the Author
Joseph A. Cannon is the former editor of the Deseret News. He is an attorney who has also served in the federal government and as an industry executive. Cannon has been actively involved in efforts to better the community and has served in a variety of callings in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He and his wife, Jan, have seven children and live in Provo, Utah.
Matthew S. Holland
Matthew S. Holland
Matthew S. Holland is the president of Utah Valley University, where he has been serving since June 2009. Before assuming this position, President Holland was an associate professor of political science at Brigham Young University, where he taught courses in political philosophy and American political thought.
A popular teacher, President Holland has a commitment to applied learning concepts that led to his selection as BYU’s “Civically Engaged Scholar of the Year” in 2008 by Utah Campus Compact. His scholarly research on how ideals of Christian charity influenced the development of American political life garnered national attention. In 2007, his book, Bonds of Affection: Civic Charity and the Making of America, was published by Georgetown University Press. In 2005, he won Princeton University’s James Madison Fellowship.
President Holland graduated from Brigham Young University with honors in 1991 and was valedictorian for the political science department. That same year he was awarded the Raoul Wallenberg Scholarship for a year of graduate study at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Before going on to earn his master’s degree and PhD in political science at Duke University, President Holland served as chief of staff for the top executive of the international consulting firm Monitor Group and, later, as special assistant to then-Governor Michael O. Leavitt of Utah.
Currently, President Holland serves on numerous community boards, including the editorial advisory board of the Deseret News and the boards of the Utah Valley and Salt Lake City Chambers of Commerce. He and his wife, Paige, have four children.
• • •
Most simply put, I am a Mormon because Mormonism is true.
To be clear, by Mormonism I mean the gospel of Jesus Christ as fully restored through His latter-day prophets.
To be candid, by making such a declaration, I stand unfashionably out of step with much of the academic world I have inhabited for most of my professional life.
When Plato began teaching students in the very first “academy,” he was following in the footsteps of his teacher Socrates, who declared that “a lover of learning must from youth on strive as intensely as possible for every kind of truth” (Plato’s Republic, 485d). Central to Socrates’ view was the notion that not only did certain unchanging truths exist, but such truths were the most real and desirable things the soul might pursue. The job of the academy, then, was to assist the student in the search for those eternal verities.
The irony of contemporary academic life—relative to what Plato and Socrates started—is that the whole notion of eternal truth is generally called into question or just dismissed. And the only thing more suspect than philosophical certainty about the nature of human existence and morality is religious certainty about such matters. To walk in this kind of setting with sureness about the divine origins, ways, and purposes of human life is to be seen often as a real curiosity and, in some cases, a downright threat to the intellectual community.
I wish not to overstate things. In the contemporary academy, I have terrific colleagues who either share my views or share some kind of sympathetic religious world view or are, at least, highly respectful of what I hold sacred and true. I would also note that at public schools and universities, it is not just prudent but completely consistent with principles of liberty (principles deeply affirmed by my religious understanding) that teachers and administrators not use their positions to proselyte or privilege their particular faith in the curriculum and classroom.
Yet, the fact remains that certain philosophies and attitudes that often emanate from and prevail within the world of higher education create a temptation like that faced by Jeremiah of old to “not make mention . . . nor speak any more” of one’s core religious convictions in any way or in any place other than one’s own home or private place of worship. Just like Jeremiah, this is untenable to me, for God’s word is “in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones” (Jeremiah 20:9). I cannot deny that word nor can I be kept from all public affirmations of it.
A word, then, about how I came to my convictions. For some, a testimony of the truthfulness of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ can come very quickly—in a single, intense moment of inspiration or in a rapid series of powerful spiritual witnesses and intellectual illuminations. I have watched this happen in other people’s lives a number of times. My own convictions have come in a different way, however. I am unable to point to a single moment, or even a quick series of moments, of conversion. Rather, my convictions have come “precept upon precept; line upon line” (Isaiah 28:10). Through a steady, lifetime diet of gospel-related teachings, experiences, questionings, meditations, and reasonings, I have simply come to know—undeniably so—that the messages and doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are true.
While the process has been more gradual for me than for some, the product of gospel knowledge has ultimately come with all of the truth-confirming power so picturesquely promised by Alma, a prophet in the Book of Mormon. Speaking to those who want to “know of a surety” that the teachings of God’s prophets are true, Alma urges an “experiment” (Alma 32:17, 26–27). The experiment begins by planting the word of God in the heart and nourishing it through study, prayer, and meditation. This experiment is an act of faith because, at least at first, there is an unavoidable sense of uncertainty about such teachings (see v. 27). If this act of faith is not prematurely aborted, Alma assures that the word planted in the heart “will begin to swell within your breasts.” The fact that you can “feel these swelling motions” is simply the first palpable signal that what you have been considering is “real” (vv. 28, 35).
Beyond the feelings of the heart, the properly and faithfully nourished word of God also unmistakably informs and affects one’s mental and spiritual faculties: “your mind doth expand . . . your understanding doth begin to be enlightened . . . it beginneth to enlarge [your] soul” (vv. 28, 34). But even this is not all. In one of the most unique images developed in all of scripture, Alma also indicates that the word starts to blossom into intellectual-spiritual “light” that can not only be “discerned” but “tasted.” More to the point, these gospel truths “beginneth to be delicious to [you],” causing you to want to “feast” upon the word of God and the most delicious and satisfying fruit it produces (v. 42). Here, it is worth turning to Joseph Smith, who neatly captures and even further develops the same image in his King Follett discourse, where he says that “this is good doctrine. It tastes good. I can taste the principles of eternal life, and so can you. They are given to me by the revelations of Jesus Christ; and I know that when I tell you these words of eternal life as they are given to me, you taste them, and I know that you believe them. You say honey is sweet, and so do I. I can also taste the spirit of eternal life. I know it is good; and when I tell you of these things which were given me by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, you are bound to receive them as sweet, and rejoice more and more” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith 1976, 355).
The fact of the matter is that the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is real and sweet, and the more I study and try to live it, the more real and sweet it becomes.
Among the sweetest messages and realities I have discovered in Latter-day Saint theology is the notion that God can do infinitely more with my life than I could ever hope to do on my own. It starts with the most loving, redemptive, and powerful act of all time: Christ’s Atonement, which holds out the hope of rescue from every iota of discouragement, dissipation, and divine distance fostered by sin—the inevitable mistakes we all make as mere mortals in this fallen world. And, as if this matchless offer were not enough, Heaven also stands ready to help us succeed far beyond our natural abilities, turning weaknesses into strengths, consecrating the performance of all our duties unto the welfare of our souls, and providing unseen and miraculous forces of support in the battles of life.
I have turned to and received these graces too many times to doubt that they are real. In fact, I consciously rely on them daily. And, like Frost’s road less traveled, they have “made all the difference” in my personal and professional life. They are manifestations of just one of a most delicious set of doctrines that fasten me to Christ and an active commitment to His living Church led by His living oracles.
Ultimately, then, I am a Mormon because, being an earnest seeker of truth from my youth, and having tasted what I have tasted, I could be no other.
by melodie - reviewed on February 17, 2012
I loved the concept for this book. However, it fell a little short of what I expected. I was hoping to read profound testimonies from exceptionally insightful people. The people in this book are successful in the worldly sense. They are mainly from the business or athletic sectors. There are not a lot of women and even less minorities. It would have been more interesting to read about people who were exceptionally spiritual as opposed to people who had achieved worldly accomplishments.
by Tristan - reviewed on March 22, 2012
I found the book interesting and because each chapter is fairly short I could pick it up and read one whole story in the small moments of my day between caring for my growing brood. Getting to read conversion stories in their own words touched me. The variety of ways God leads people to know him amazes me. I’ve enjoyed my time reading Why I’m a Mormon. Read my full review at: http://ourbusyhomeschool.blogspot.com/2012/03/why-im-mormona-book-review.html
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