Posted by: rusch | March 13, 2005

Out of Retirement

I have not posted a blog in quite some time. I was beginning to consider that I had a good run and decided to hang it up, much like Seinfeld, while I was on top. But now, like the greatest basketball player of all time Michael Jordan. As of now, I am back in the blogging game. I commit to my dedicated readers that I will provide both pithy and serious blogs of the past.

Let’s start by revisiting an old topic. My battle with Chad Phares of BYU Idaho’s student newspaper. I spent many hours crafting a response that never made it on my page. But now why not start my comeback in a big way.

To lay the foundation, here is Chad’s original article in all of its’ glory.

by Chad Phares
Scroll Senior Writer
An oddity is in progress. Thanks to the growth of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the LDS literature business has increased in production and popularity, allowing members of the Church and those of other faiths alike a chance to read a bevy of books relating to the gospel.

The oddity: Some of these books aren’t helping the Church — they’re hurting it. Critically.

Although writing LDS literature has turned into a profitable venture for some members of the Church, some of the authors are merely seeking fame and financial gain — not the welfare of Zion.

Granted, there are several books written by lay members that are written for the general welfare of the church and teach correct doctrine. In addition, the books written by general authorities should be read with confidence that correct doctrine is being taught.

These books, however, are difficult to find thanks to other books that exist which spew false doctrine and intermingle fact with fiction page after page.

Orson Scott Card is a successful science fiction novel writer who dabbles in fictional church history novels just enough to confuse both members and those of other faiths.

Several who have read Card’s book, Saints, said they feel like he portrayed Joseph Smith as a power hungry leader intent on living in secretive polygamous relationships.

The problem with the book is if the reader doesn’t know Card is LDS, he might believe that he is an anti-Mormon writer.

Card himself readily admits in his book A Storyteller in Zion that he isn’t a scholar, and his role in the Church gives him no special claim to inspiration for the body of the Saints.

Apparently, this hasn’t stopped him from attempting to do so in his essays in the book.

One essay is about the importance of establishing Zion, while another discusses the importance of Book of Mormon principles.

Important topics? Yes.

Edifying? If written by an apostle — yes.

Written by Card — no.

Another book, Chris Stewart’s The Brothers, is the first in a series of books that will follow the history of the plan of salvation from the premortal existence to the resurrection of all men.

The book tells of the relationships between Ammon, Luke, Peter, Michael, Lucifer and Moses in the premortal existence (dialog included).

So what gives Stewart the authority to write this book? Did he receive a special revelation? Was he commissioned by the Church to write it? Does he even know more than the average church member about what Lucifer said to Ammon in the premortal existence?

Nope. None of those things. The book is, however, making him a good deal of money.

LDS genre books occasionally take the focus off of the basic doctrines of salvation, leading to fanatical study of things like the last days, polygamy or the location of Kolob, rather than the core principles of the gospel.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie warned against fanatical study of gospel topics.

“Stable and sound persons are never fanatics; they do not ride gospel hobbies,” Elder McConkie said.

Shane Whelan, author of More than One, was excommunicated from the Church in 2002 after refusing to denounce his book on polygamy.

Whelan’s response: “I still believe this is the Lord’s church, but I think there is a lot wrong with some of the people who are running it.”

And this is who we have writing church literature?

The Church has written and authorized certain books as doctrine of the Church that are intended to be used by members. In addition to The Book of Mormon, Holy Bible, Pearl of Great Price and Doctrine and Covenants, missionaries are allowed to take five other books with them into the mission field.

Each of these five books has been approved as official church doctrine and they allow missionaries to be sure they are reading and teaching correct principles.

If there were a need for a book about polygamy or other misunderstood doctrines to be written, it would be — perhaps by an apostle.

But right now the need doesn’t exist, so lay members should try to steer clear of things they don’t understand.

Elder M. Russell Ballard cautioned members against believing all things they read in books not authorized by the Church.

“There are those who, without authority, claim Church endorsement to their products and practices,” Elder Ballard said. “Beware of such.”

President Joseph F. Smith taught that such teachings might lead to apostasy and loss of eternal life.

Meanwhile, despite the warnings, members continue to read and write their way toward unhappiness and false doctrine.

Wise members don’t waste time and salvation reading the literature, although peculiarly enough others still do—regardless of the warnings received from Church leaders.

And that really is odd.


  1. Perhaps Chad is unaware that Orson Scott Card worked as a staff editor for the Ensign in his early career. Chad may be surprised to learn that Card’s first published work of fiction, a short story titled “Gert Fram”, actually appeared in the July 1977 edition of the Ensign. I suppose this may not cause much of a stir for Chad as Card was obviously “commissioned” by the Church to write this story, unlike his more recent work “Saints”.

  2. One more thing, claiming that religious fiction is harmful to the LDS Church is about as ridiculous as the assertion that science fiction novels are damaging to true science.–>

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