The first author (T Givens) is a professor of Literature and Religion at the University of Richmond where he teaches courses in Romanticism, 19th-century cultural studies, and the bible and literature. He has published in literary theory, British and European romanticism, Mormon studies, and intellectual history. He has other books that are much more academic (one of which is also on our list), but we wanted to start with one that is a little more accessible.
What I love about this author is his belief in reason. As a non-dogmatic LDS person, I find it heartening to find support for the belief that God does not expect us to forsake our gifts of intellect so we can embrace that faith, even in the face of our doubts. Sometimes I think that we judge the doubters in our faith — we misunderstand that their questions are not evidence of their greater sinfulness; rather, they are evidence that they are struggling to make sense of all the puzzle pieces. He says doubts are natural and even essential for growth. He also includes perspectives from other faith traditions and early Christian thinkers, like Origen, CS Lewis, William Wordsworth, Sam Shepard, Saint Augustine, and Soren Kierkegard. One reviewer on GoodReads said “this unrestricted gathering of truth from whatever source it springs reminds me of Joseph Smith…” It’s true that early believers in Mormonism were also non-dogmatic; they would have to be to embrace the new faith.
I’m excited to read this book together and discuss.