In Part I, The Smallest Part tells of how we understand truth and morality and also how we order our lives in response to our beliefs.
“We live in an age that is flooded with facts and issues, big and small,” says Elder Maxwell. “But ironically, in some respects men are, as never before, ‘ever learning, and never able to come to a knowledge of the truth,’ or the real issues.”
Touching on the importance of understanding morality in the proper context, he continues:
“In asking anyone, including ourselves, to accept the moral standards of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Lord is not asking us to give up anything we now have except those attitudes, habits, and patterns which will finally destroy our body or soul! A man can keep his slippers, but not his pipe; a woman can serve in the community but must not destroy her ultimate self-esteem as a wife or mother. … a man may keep his riches but must place them second. …”
Part II suggests ways in which Latter-day Saints can make time work for them more effectively as they face the dilemmas of making important decisions and as they mold exemplary life styles for others to emulate.
Joseph Anderson, for 50 years secretary to the First Presidency, is in a position to know the General Authorities of the Church as few men do. In his reminiscences, he testifies of his love and loyalty as he tells anecdotes that reveal the character of these great Church leaders; some of the stories and quotations are taken from shorthand notes that never before have been transcribed.
The five presidents that Brother Anderson served were Heber J. Grant, George Albert Smith, David O. McKay, and Joseph Fielding Smith, and presently Harold B. Lee.
In addition to the Church presidents, Brother Anderson includes intimate portraits of counselors in the First Presidency such as J. Reuben Clark, Jr., Stephen L Richards, and Charles W. Penrose. The formation of a new presidency, he states, is a marvelous “blending of the wills of strong and capable men of varied experience and achievement into a unity of purpose—the building of the Kingdom of God on earth.”
He tells a story of when President Heber J. Grant was taken in critical condition to a Los Angeles hospital, where his friends responded with flowers and letters of encouragement. “Though almost too sick to talk, President Grant insisted that letters of thanks and appreciation be written to these friends, and he could not be dissuaded from signing these letters personally. It was with much difficulty that he signed his name, but he insisted on doing so.”
President Grant was also very conscious of his non-Mormon smoking friends and when he would take them for rides into the surrounding canyons, “he would arrange to stop along the way so that his guests could get out of the car, and he would conveniently disappear for a time, so that the guests could have their smokes if they desired.”
President George Albert Smith was also revered for his gentleness and love. Once he came to Welfare Square with several brethren to inspect the parcels being sent overseas to Saints suffering after World War II. “As he stood before the open boxes where clothing was being gathered to be shipped to Europe, President Smith removed his coat and laid it on one of the piles. Despite the protests of his associates, the Church leader insisted and returned to the Church offices without his coat.”
In a delightful collection, Elder Sterling W. Sill has brought together touching and revealing sermons centered around the theme of Christmas.
Terming a sermon “language dressed up in its best clothes,” Elder Sill relates stories covering all aspects of the holiday season and its meaning to Latter-day Saints.
One example, “Home for Christmas,” deals with the joys of returning home to celebrate the holidays with family and friends. He explains the peace of homecoming from the perspective of Hans Christian Andersen’s homeless little matchgirl, Gretchen.
Numb with cold and with no match sales by nightfall, Gretchen sought protection from the cold between two buildings. She “began to light some of her matches to keep herself warm, and each time while the glow lasted she saw some beautiful Christmas visions of warm fires, good food, comfort, and plenty that cheered her heart, but each time, when the matches went out, the happy visions disappeared. …
“Then Gretchen lighted a big bundle of matches, and in their lighted glow she saw her [deceased] grandmother. ‘Grandmother,’ she cried, ‘take me with you, for I know that, like the warm fire, the delicious roast goose, and the beautiful Christmas tree, you will also go away when the matches are burned out.’ Then in order to prolong her grandmother’s stay, she hastily struck all of her matches at once. They blazed with a glow that seemed brighter than day. Her grandmother had never before seemed so beautiful, so gracious, and so loving. Then she lifted little Gretchen into her arms, and in the warm brightness and supreme joy of being together, they flew far away to a beautiful place where there was no cold, or hunger, or fear. In that beautiful place everyone was warm, happy, comfortable, and well provided for, for they were at home with God.
“When the cold morning dawned, neighbors found the little match girl in her scant and tattered garments, frozen to death, between the buildings. She sat there facing the wall. Her cheeks were filled with roses and a beautiful smile was on her face. …
“It was, of course, impossible for them to know what beauty she had seen, and in what brightness she had gone with her grandmother into the joys of her heavenly home. Neither did they know how much happiness there can sometimes be in a world of misery.”
From Elaine Cannon to Zina D. Young, Latter-day Saint women tell faith-promoting and inspirational stories in this compilation by Leon S. Hartshorn. The stories, arranged in alphabetical order by the author’s name, reflect the strength of both our pioneer forebears and modern women.
Many of the stories, such as Lucy Mack Smith’s, are well-known and loved in the Church. Others are less familiar.
Louise Lake tells of a nightmarish night in a hospital after she was stricken with polio, unable to reach for a glass of water or turn herself in bed. The nurse who came in answer to her feeble cries raised her legs from the painful position they had been in for hours “as if she had heard exact instructions.” Sister Lake, expressing her loneliness, asked the nurse to pray for her.
“She at once stepped to the door and closed it tightly. Though she was risking her career, she came back to my side, dropped the isolation mask from her face, and took off her gloves. Taking my two helpless hands in her strong black hands, she lowered her head in reverence and said, ‘You’ll have to pray—I can’t.’
“… I thanked my Heavenly Father for the relief that had come in those moments of distress and for that nurse who had come like an angel to assist me. When I opened my eyes and looked up at her, tears were coursing down her face. Before she let go of my hands she looked into my face, also flooded with tears, and said, ‘I would give anything and have no fears if I knew God like that and could pray to him that way.’”
From the pioneer period, Jane Grover reports a berrypicking expedition that ended terrifyingly when Indians surrounded their wagon, began pulling her out, and stripping the man who accompanied them. She knew that they meant “to kill Father Tanner, turn the wagon, and take us women prisoners.” She immediately began praying as she struggled.
Then, “the Spirit of the Almighty fell upon me and I arose with great power; and no tongue can tell my feelings. I was happy as I could be. A few moments before I saw worse than death staring me in the face, and now my hand was raised by the power of God, and I talked to those Indians in their own language. They let go the horses and wagon, and all stood in front of me while I talked to them by the power of God. They answered ‘Yes,’ in a way that made me know what they meant.”
Some of the other inspirational stories come from the lives of Rachel Ivins Grant, Ettie Lee, Emma Rae McKay, Emma Pea Rich, Daryl V. Hoole, and Shirley Casper.