Unique among books released by Mormon publishing houses, Eric Shuster's "Catholic Roots Mormon Harvest" will appeal to Catholics as much as it will interest members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The Cedar Fort release chronicles the conversion of lifelong Catholics Eric and Marilyn Shuster to Mormonism. It also discusses the similar and contrasting aspects of the two faiths.
The devoutly Catholic couple began investigating the church a few years into their marriage, and despite their upbringings and Marilyn's stint as a Franciscan nun, the Shusters were eventually baptized.
The book's most compelling components come from Shuster's inclusion of his and his wife's personal conversion alongside the explanation of the faiths' doctrines. After outlining each of the key aspects of a certain belief, he explains why each faith's teaching makes some sense, and why the LDS teachings resounded with him. Shuster maintains a reverence for his former religion throughout the book and in no way belittles or diminishes its positive influence in his life.
One of the book's longer chapters focuses on the Godhead. Shuster's inclusion of his own commentary and testimony of the LDS Church's teachings are faith-affirming, yet the detailed explanation he gives of the Catholic theology is fascinating for someone unacquainted with Catholic teachings.
In a chapter about revelation, Shuster reveals that through investigating the Mormon faith, he came across teachings in the Catholic church that he had been unfamiliar with.
He writes, "Frankly, we were not aware that the Catholic Church does not believe in any further revelation — that was, and still is, quite a surprise to us."
Shuster cites source material throughout the book, referencing biblical verses, Catechisms, and other commentaries that he draws from to summarize the doctrines.
The first several chapters of the book retell Eric and Marilyn's conversion to the LDS Church. It will come as no surprise to any returned missionary that the Shusters were greatly influenced by their Mormon neighbors and friends. Their initial suspicion of their next door neighbors, the Torgesens, is humorous as well as absorbing.
While compelling, the conversion story reads more as an introduction to the meat of the book — 40 comparative doctrines — and in that sense seems to run on a little long.
The book's very design is to highlight the similarities and differences between Mormonism and Catholicism, and consequently much of the book will be a review for a reader familiar with either. The decades he spent as a non-Mormon give Shuster a distinctive vernacular, though, that gives even the most well-known doctrines a fresh makeover.
Throughout the 261 pages, Shuster makes clear his love for both faiths. As he writes on page 83, " … I wasn't giving up anything in becoming a Latter-day Saint and was in fact gaining so much more in reaping the harvest."