When the 2002 Winter Olympics came to Utah, more than 50 prominent members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints discussed their faith in a book titled “Why I Believe.”
Ten years later, amid Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign and the “Mormon Moment,” another book with the testimonies of 53 influential Latter-day Saints —some from before and some new — is being released.
“Why I’m a Mormon” (Ensign Peak, $19.99) is intended to give readers a glimpse into LDS Church through the individual experiences of members from a variety of backgrounds and professions. The volume includes vignettes from successful business leaders, entertainers, sports figures, authors and many others. The collection was compiled and edited by Joseph A. Cannon with help from Scott and Cheri Loveless.
“The whole point of this book is to come out with something fresh that gives interested people a window into the church through the witness of many of its members,” Cannon said. “It’s an interesting mix of people.”
Among those who share their testimonies in the book:
Alex Boy is an entertainer, recording artist and actor.
Richard Lyman Bushman is an acclaimed historian who has published a number of books.
Clayton M. Christensen was a Rhodes Scholar who studied at Oxford University before becoming Harvard business professor and best-selling author.
Matthew S. Holland is the president of Utah Valley University.
Austin Collie is a wide receiver for the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts.
Cecilie Lundgreen, Laurette Maritz and Reeve A. Nield are professional golfers.
Robert C. Oaks is a retired U.S. Air Force general who also served as an LDS general authority.
The fact that each person’s faith was challenged at some point in his or her life was common in each case, Cannon said.
“Most had a defining moment in time when it mattered that they were a Latter-day Saint,” Cannon said. “I was surprised how the Word of Wisdom continues to be a very defining aspect of our lives as Latter-day Saints in the world.”
An LDS reader can be strengthened in their own approach to the world by reading these stories, Cannon said; their lives provide credibility to their convictions.
“With the humble recognition that all of us fall short of the glory of God, nevertheless, we are not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ,” Cannon wrote in the preface. “We feel that we can embrace the test, ‘By their fruits ye shall know them' (Matthew 7:20).”
Cannon said he was grateful to participate in the project.
“I had great fun doing this and my testimony was strengthened,” said the former editor of the Deseret News. “I have known a bunch of the people really well for years. In each case I was inspired by their words. If you are a person of faith, this book will reinforce that faith, because it's real-life examples of people who have done some tough things to be true to their faith.”
Cannon and several of the individuals profiled in the book are members of the Deseret News editorial advisory board.
Excerpts from "Why I'm a Mormon":
Coming this week
Cecilie "CC" Lundgreen