Book review: 'Letters to a Young Mormon' shares effective counsel for Mormons, young and old

By Mike Whitmer

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Feb. 15 2014 5:00 a.m. MST

"LETTERS TO A YOUNG MORMON," by Adam S. Miller, Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, $9.95, 78 pages (nf)

Latter-day Saint parents who send their children on a mission or to college often wish they had a gospel primer to encourage their children's faithful living in their absence — something simple but clear that would encourage and teach skills that protect from the wiles of the world and the adversary.

Enter Adam S. Miller, author of "Letters to a Young Mormon." In his new, small and pocket-sized book, Miller introduces 12 simple but essential doctrines pertaining to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Each topic appears in a letter written by "A" to the youthful "S" and is presented with a flowing, easy-to-read style that invites the reader to ponder and consider the truths contained therein.

For instance, as "A" shares thoughts on scripture study, "S" is encouraged to remember that "you and I must translate these books again ... inflected by (our) native concerns, and written in (our) native flesh. To be a Mormon is to do once more, on (our) own small scale, the same kind of work that Joseph (Smith) did,"

Employing a witty, upbeat sense of life, the author teaches without being preachy and encourages deep reflection of serious messages in the gospel of Christ.

Further discussion points include simple subjects such as prayer and agency. But the author also delves into more difficult things like history, science and hunger. All are treated with respect and reflects the teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Parents of young adults, teenagers or anyone who is interested in a thought-provoking, well-written guidebook to basic LDS doctrines will enjoy the effort put into this delightful little tome.

Miller is a professor of philosophy at Collin College in McKinney, Texas, and serves as the director of the Mormon Theology Seminar.

Mike Whitmer lives in West Valley City and enjoys a wide variety of activities. You can reach him at grundelwalken@gmail.com or visit his blog at mtwhitmer.blogspot.com.

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