Women and the Priesthood by Sheri Dew

I know not all the readers of my blog care about all the subjects that interest me, but as I continue to write about my reading, I love the ability to reflect back on what I’ve read in the past in the context of when I read it. This review is of a book that probably most readers are not interested in. I read it as I took a much needed break from the demanding duties of motherhood for a days. It was a time of much reflection for me as I realized how much I miss being home with my little ones: but it was also wonderful to be able to sit and read a book without much distraction in the course of a few days!

Women and the Priesthood by Sheri Dew (Deseret Book, 2013) is a simple book containing one woman’s testimony of what the priesthood means in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Although the title seems all encompassing, it is a deeply personal book.

Sister Dew shares her testimony, including words from prophets and apostles and scriptures to share what she believes. I have always enjoyed Sheri Dew’s frank way of putting things, and I think she has a unique perspective to add, given that she is a single middle-aged woman who has served closely with many of the general authorities. How, then does this powerful woman truly feel about the priesthood in her life?

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Elizabeth Smart’s Story and Heaven is Here by Stephanie Nielson

The stories of Elizabeth Smart and Stephanie Nielson are not that similar. Yes, both had a hard year that they wrote about in a memoir, and both are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons). But there the similarities end.

Elizabeth Smart was abducted from her bed at knife point as a 14 year old and raped repeatedly before being reunited with her family 9 months later; Stephanie Nielson is a mother who was burned on over 80% of her body, and yet lived to experience the pain and joy of rejoining the world afterwards.

But despite the differences in their stories, both memoirs celebrate the strength of the human spirit to overcome adversity. Reading the two books at this time of year seems just right. It’s helped me appreciate the blessings I do have and to prepare myself to enjoy this next year of my life as well as I can. The human spirit is strong in the face of adversity.

After all, a lot can happen in one year.Continue Reading

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand is a biography of the 1936 Olympic mile-runner Louis Zamperini. Zamperini came in seventh place that year, so he was not the winner in that respect. But his subsequent story is incredible and inspiring. Continue Reading

The Mormon People by Matthew Bowman

Like historian Matthew Bowman, I am an active participant in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly referred to as the Mormon Church. Bowman’s recent overview of the history and people of the Church, The Mormon People: The Making of an American Faith (published January 2012 by Random House), provides a different perspective on the history of the Church in America. He shares the history by discussing the people that joined the Church as believers and those that interacted with the Church from the early 1800s until today.

I consider myself fairly well read about the history of the Church in the United States, so I was pleasantly surprised by how Bowman’s perspective gave me a new view of Church history. The different personalities of the Church leaders throughout the eras of the Church’s history certainly had an impact on how the Church was administered, how doctrines were taught, how believers were encouraged to live, and how believers and nonbelievers interacted with one another.Continue Reading