Deseret Book

Author Truman G. Madsen conveys the feelings and importance of temple work in "The Temple: Where Heaven Meets Earth." He adeptly does so in an indirect way fitting of his subject.

The book is a collection of essays and talks that previously were available in separate compilations. In the preface, Madsen outlines his hope for the book: "If these studies can help readers, anywhere and in any way, to enhance their temple experience, in the image of the Redeemer, I will be more than grateful."

Each chapter addresses a different theme related to the temple. To make the eternal topic relatable, Madsen uses some earthly analogies and figurative language to convey his point, referring to the temple as the "Lord's University," a "powerhouse," "a channel through which prayers ascend," the "crowning of our lives" and the "bridge between heaven and Earth." More often than not, though, the author states that the beauty and weight of certain aspects of temple worship are indescribable.

The chapters are written like sermons, but with language and depth that cause the reader to sometimes go over the same sentence or thought several times to grasp the power of it.

Madsen also discusses the temple in historical context, from Joseph Smith and the Kirtland Temple to ancient temples. The book features both instruction and prose, including a few poetic thoughts. It also contains several scriptural references, quotes from prophets and some personal experiences. Readers might take interest in the stories Madsen shares about President Howard W. Hunter and President David O. McKay.

A long chapter in the middle of the book features the insights of both Madsen and his wife, Ann, alternately. Their voices are similar, and commentary complementary. In it they discuss how the temple helps members better understand the role of women in the plan of salvation, the ways members can take the temple home with them and how they can prepare. The couple's writing style is almost interchangeable at times.

Madsen is able to describe the temple without going into specifics, and yet somehow readers walk away feeling as though they've glimpsed the beauty of the temple even though they may have never entered.

"The Temple: Where Heaven Meets Earth" (June 2008) is published by Deseret Book.

Molly Farmer

mfarmer@desnews.com