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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Yes, They're Mormons, But Why?

(Image from Deseret Book)

Between Mitt Romney's presidential campaign, the "I'm A Mormon" television/billboard ads, and the increasing number of Mormon artists/athletes/politicians/business people in the news, it seems like Mormonism is everywhere. This, for the most part, makes members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints very happy. It may make the rest of you angry, curious or just downright confused. After all, who are these crazy Mormons? And what do they believe? Can people who embrace angels, modern-day prophets and golden Bibles be sane, let alone trusted to lead our nation?

To answer some of these questions, former Deseret News editor-in-chief Joseph A. Cannon, compiled the stories of 53 prominent Mormons (including David Archuleta, Stephen R. Covey, Brandon Mull, Steve Young, etc.) in the new book, Why I'm A Mormon. Asked to discuss what they believe, why they believe and how those beliefs have affected their lives, those interviewed shared very personal experiences about and testimonies of their faith in Jesus Christ. The essays are intimate, enlightening and inspiring.

While the collection may be most interesting to members of the church, it's intended for a wider audience. In fact, Why I'm A Mormon is the first book ever published by Deseret Book's Ensign Peak imprint, which "seeks to offer content regarding Latter-day Saint topics to a broad national audience" (quote from a press release). Because the volume is so readable and faith-sustaining, I believe it can be enjoyed by anyone. I, for one, found it very worth my time.

My favorite section was written by Alex Boyé, a British man of Nigerian descent, who went from being homeless on the streets of London to performing with the world-reknowned Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Besides having a strong, humble testimony of the Savior, Boyé's voice just gives me goosebumps:

Here are some other quotes from the book that stood out to me:

I am a Mormon because the heft of sound scholarship reaffirms the sweet whisperings of faith."

- Robert F. Bennett, former U.S. senator

"... the way the Church is organized, it puts opportunities to help others in my path every day. It facilitates my efforts—and in some instances almost compels me—to practice Christianity, not just believe in it."

- Clayton M. Christensen, businessman and Harvard professor

"Go on a mission. To some it may seem like the most ridiculous, silly, nonsensical thing to do. Think about it. You're nineteen years old. You're going to give up school, home and family, a social life, your car, sports, friends, maybe a scholarship. You're going to give up the good life. For what? To go out and lead a highly regimented, spartan life of rejection? It makes no sense! and it won't make any sense until you add one element into the equation—that at the end of the day, the gospel of Jesus Christ is really true. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is what it claims to be. Joseph Smith saw and heard what he said he saw and heard. We are led by a modern prophet. Once you add this into the mix, going on a mission is the most logical, "of course" thing you could ever do."

- Larry Gelwix, high school rugby coach whose story inspired the movie Forever Strong

"Why am I a Mormon? I'm a Mormon because the way I was taught to communicate with God works. I'm not sure I could believe in a religion that offered less than a personal relationship with my Heavenly Father."

- Brandon Mull, #1 New York Times bestselling author

"From the moment the airplane went up in flames, I was praying. I knew God would never leave me. I knew it then and I still know it now.

I never lost my faith in God or blamed Him, even through my struggles to heal, my multiple surgeries, my physical changes, and the role these all play in my children's lives (and mine). In fact, I am thanking Him every day for this trial. I feel honored to carry it, and I hope I am doing it in a way that is pleasing to Him."

- Stephanie Nielson, blogger (NieNie Dialogues) and plane crash survivor

"This is what being a Mormon gives me: context, understanding, and the peace of home. I am a Mormon because belief is life, and I don't want a life without it."

- Steve Young, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback

(Readalikes: Hm, I can't really think of anything. Can you?)

Grade: B

If this were a movie, it would be rated: G for nothing offensive

To the FTC, with love: I received a finished copy of Why I'm a Mormon from the generous folks at Deseret Book. Thank you!


  1. Glen and I have also been reading this book (we have to take turns :)

    I really enjoyed these intimate little essays with a glimpse into individual personalities and journeys of faith.

  2. This sounds really interesting! I think I'd like to bring it to work and see what other people say to me about it :)

    Oh, and maybe we can try to meet at the Michael Grant signing next month - I happen to know you're a fan!


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