"We are not measured by the trials we meet -- only by those we overcome."
- - Spencer W. Kimball
May 22, 2013
New Books Thoughtfully Explore LDS Doctrine and History
by Laurie Williams Sowby

Brad Wilcox’s down-to-earth book The Continuous Conversion follows his previous The Continuous Atonement with the same kind of clear explanations and examples. The popular author and speaker uses pithy quotes from General Authorities, verses from the scriptures, and memorable stories of real people striving for improvement to illustrate, as it says on the cover, “God’s Not Just Proving Us, He’s Improving Us.”

“True conversion occurs when we stop trying to earn heaven and start trying to learn it,” he asserts. And it is not a one-time event but a lifelong journey. “The journey of conversion can seem daunting unless we remember we are not alone. Instead of seeing the Lord as one sitting back evaluating our efforts,” he writes. “We need to see that He is working right alongside us (see 1 Nephi 20:17).” Encouraging words.

There are other wise words and insights, too. Some may find the idea that worthiness is not the same as perfection very liberating. In the final chapter, Wilcox says, “Goodness and faithfulness are not hoops we jump through to earn accolades; they are traits that are developed as we make and keep covenants with Him (see Moroni 7:48).”

The Continuous Conversion is a wise book worth digesting slowly (Deseret Book 2013, 232 pages in hard cover, $21.99).

Mark A. Amacher’s The Savior’s Symbols is a thoughtful and thought-provoking exploration of the deeper meaning in stories from the Savior’s life. “All His symbols and names orient and direct us to him,” writes the author in the preface.

Subtitled, “Seven Affirmations from the Life of the Master,” the book treats just a few of the symbols found in the scriptures (wine, water, bread, stone, oil, Shepherd and Lamb, and Alpha and Omega). But the foundation given by the author enhances a reader’s ability to discover more.

Amacher’s method is to present the symbolic idea with ample quotes from respected authorities, then follow a “hymn verse interlude” with his own thoughts on various aspects of the same symbol, adding new insights to familiar stories.

In addition, the center of the book features artistic renderings by LDS artists Jeffrey Hein, Michael Malm, and Nathan Andrew Pinnock that invite contemplation. Ardeth Kapp wrote the foreword for The Savior’s Symbols (Cedar Fort Press 2013, 167 pages in soft cover, $16.99).

Blaine M. Yorgason of Charlie’s Monument fame has teamed up with Richard A. Schmutz and Douglas D. Alder to produce a readable and accurate historical account in All That was Promised: The St. George Temple and the Unfolding of the Restoration. All three have served in the St. George Temple — the first to be completed in Utah — since retiring from their academic professions. Their book has all the big names in Mormon history and plenty of lesser-known ones, too.

Spanning time from then to now, it tells of hardships and sacrifices in settling the St. George area and turning the desert into a thriving community, as well as challenges during the temple’s construction. The book also includes information on early temple endowments in Nauvoo — still a relatively unknown concept when the St. George Temple was dedicated in 1877 — and the history of the endowment in modern times.

One chapter is devoted to proxy baptisms performed for the founding fathers (and mothers) of the United States, and another chapter to the St. George Temple’s position on the “honeymoon trail” as young Mormon couples began settling parts of Arizona.

Black-and-white photos taken during the construction process add much. Readers with roots in the St. George area will appreciate a helpful list of St. George pioneers as well as an extensive index at the back of All That was Promised (Deseret Book 2013, 374 pages in hard cover, $34.99).

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About Laurie Williams Sowby

Laurie Williams Sowby has been writing since second grade and getting paid for it since high school. Her byline ("all three names, please") has appeared on more than 6,000 freelance articles published in newspapers, magazines, and online.

A graduate of BYU and a writing instructor at Utah Valley University for many years, she proudly claims all five children and their spouses as college grads.

She and husband, Steve, have served three full-time missions together, beginning in 2005 in Chile, followed by Washington D.C. South, then Washington D.C. North, both times as young adult Institute teachers. They are currently serving in the New York Office of Public and International Affairs

During her years of missionary service, Laurie has continued to write about significant Church events, including the rededication of the Santiago Temple by President Hinckley and the groundbreaking for the Philadelphia Temple by President Eyring. She also was a Church Service Missionary, working as a news editor at Church Magazines, between full-time missions.

Laurie has traveled to all 50 states and at least 45 countries (so far). While home is American Fork, Utah, Lincoln Center and the Metropolitan Museum of Art have provided a comfortable second home.

Laurie is currently serving a fourth full-time mission with her husband in the New York Office of Public and International Affairs. The two previously served with a branch presidency at the Provo Missionary Training Center. The oldest of 18 grandchildren have been called to serve missions in New Hampshire and Brisbane, Australia.

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