Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God By N. Eldon Tanner
“I plead with all Latter-day Saints, wherever they may be, to live so that they can enjoy their own self-respect and the respect of others, and so that the Lord will be able to say, ‘Here is a person on whom I can depend. He is a person who can be counted upon to live up to all the standards and commandments of the Church and be a real leader.’”
“Let us go forward this day and always, seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, knowing that it all will bring joy, success, and all things for our good.”
For more than 10 years as a member of the First Presidency, President Tanner has counseled the members of the Church to first seek the kingdom of God. In this book’s 37 chapters, some of that counsel has been distilled.
And he has followed his own advice. When called to the First Presidency in 1963, he explained part of his own formula for seeking the kingdom:
“… I wish to pledge with you again that my life and all that I have will be completely devoted to the service of my Maker and to my fellowmen, always with a prayer in my heart that he will give me wisdom and knowledge, courage and strength, inspiration and determination, and ability to keep his commandments and serve him in a way that will be acceptable to him.”
Deseret Book Co., 303 pp., $4.95.
“Relationships … Self … Family … God” By Paul H. Dunn and Richard M. Eyre
In the introduction to their book, the authors ask the question, “Is there anything you can take with you … from this life to the next other than the relationships you have formed?”
“… Things are the antithesis of people; and that’s the choice we face so often … people or things … relationships or achievements … taking time to get to know someone or getting another thing done. Why is it that we usually choose the thing over the person, even when we know that the thing is temporary and the person is forever?”
In an examination of who we are, why we are here, and the things we may do in order to achieve genuine relationships with ourselves, our families, and God, the authors write in a style that Elder Dunn describes as “short and terse. What we need is not more speed readers, but fewer superfluous words. You add your own adjectives and applications and then it will be your book, not ours.”
Beginning with an explanation that all strivings for excellence promote our relationship with ourselves, the reader is helped to understand how to achieve a oneness in the family unit, how to execute stewardships in the family, and how to achieve a relationship with God.
“The reward for building any relationship is the continuation of that relationship and of its benefits, throughout eternity. The reward for building a relationship with God, therefore, reaches unimaginable proportions, for continuation of a relationship with Him throughout eternity means attainment of the celestial kingdom and eternal life. And naturally it should be so, for to truly know God … insures the highest eternal reward.”
Bookcraft, Inc., 191 pp., $3.95.
A Woman’s Reach By Belle S. Spafford
To Belle S. Spafford, former general president of the Relief Society, a woman’s reach “is bounded only by what her mind accepts and her heart allows.” The selections in her book, many from her addresses, reach from her role as a mother to those of high international prominence.
She tells of reading the pioneer Women’s Exponent when doing historical research and smiling somewhat patronizingly at statements such as “standing as we do at the head of the women of the world,” and “in our position as leaders of women of the world. …”
But when she later attended the International Council of Women Conference as chairman of the 10-woman United States delegation, she was introduced as head of the oldest and most influential council in the world Those pioneer phrases flashed back into her mind, and this time, “I did not smile. I knew that our pioneer women leaders had been given by divine insight a knowledge of the destiny of Relief Society that many of us who have followed after them have had to gain through the tedious processes of learning and experience.”
Sister Spafiord shares meaningful counsel for Latter-day Saint women in our day. She challenges, “What price are you willing to pay for being a Latter-day Saint?” She bears her own testimony that it is “worth the full price. Its price consists … of very special types of currency, such as self-discipline, respect for Church authority, obedience to Church teachings, strict adherence to God’s commandments, uncompromising integrity, courage to be a practicing believer, maintenance of Church standards irrespective of prevailing attitudes or circumstances.”
Deseret Book Co., 160 pp., $4.95.
The Gift of Self By Marion D. Hanks
“A high school student leader was called on to speak extemporaneously in a Church meeting. He responded with good feeling and good sense. He spoke briefly about the conflict in which our country is engaged, then, with a tear in his eye, he electrified and moved us emotionally when he said—right off the top of his heart:
“‘If there has to be trouble, thank God, it can be in my time! I don’t want my little brother or the son I hope someday to have to have to fight a war on these or other shores. If there has to be trouble, thank God it can be in my time.’”
Divided into six sections, the messages of Elder Marion D. Hanks’ book, Gift of Self, counsel us how to give appreciation, concern, service, obedience, leadership, and love. Insightful comments about family life and how joyful it can be, sensitive responses to delicate situations, sympathetic understanding of trials and temptations, the ability to reprimand and discipline followed by an outpouring of love—Elder Hanks combines them all in his own skillful way and teaches us the gift of self, the art of unselfishness.
Bookcraft, Inc., 308 pp., $4.95.
Confrontation at Worms By De Lamar Jensen
“I’ll knock a hole in his drum” was Martin Luther’s irate response from Wittenberg when Dominican Friar Johann Tetzel came hawking indulgences in nearby Brandenburg. But clerical vices were not Luther’s main concern. “The real evil,” he declared, “was the incomparably more baneful and cruel canker. … the deliberate silence regarding the word of truth.”
On the eve of All Saints’ Day in 1517, Luther challenged the Dominicans by posting 95 theses denouncing their “holy trade” on the door of the castle church in Wittenberg.
Yet, in spite of the currency of Luther’s proposition throughout much of Europe, no one perceived it as the opening declaration of the Reformation.
The author of Confrontation at Worms is a professor of history at Brigham Young University and has written several books about the Renaissance and the Reformation. Here he briefly describes the religious upheaval of the 16th century in which Luther was embroiled:
“The path from Wittenberg to Worms, from universal Catholicism to fragmented Protestantism, was a series of conflicts and confrontations pitting Martin Luther first against himself, then against the clergy and the papacy, and finally against the empire.
“The Edict of Worms vividly testifies to the power and intensity of the mounting religious struggle that reached its first great climax in April 1521 in the confrontation at Worms between Martin Luther and Emperor Charles V.”
Readers of Confrontation at Worms are immediately impressed by the extraordinarily handsome appearance of this volume. Its covers are imprinted with Hans Hobien the Younger’s provocative woodcut, “German Hercules.” The carefully bound textured pages in tones of brown come to life with a profusion of choice woodcuts, engravings, sketches, and paintings to mark this volume as a fine example of the bookbinding art.
While the first portion of this book deals with Luther’s dilemma, culminating in the Edict at Worms, the balance of it contains a photographic reproduction of a rare copy of the edict itself in a beautifully ornamental French script. The English translation is printed on each facing page.
Labeled an “obstinate, schismatic heretic” by the drafters of the edict, Martin Luther’s response to the Archbishop of Trier, who entreated him to withdraw his statement, was consistent with his uncompromising stand for truth:
“I would rather lose my life and head than desert the crystal-clear word of God.”
Brigham Young University Press, 119 pp., $10.50.
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