Monday, October 18, 2010

Of One Heart - Book Review

I didn't buy a single book for over two months and I wasn't going to buy one either because of our "deal". Then, Utah Dad took Neal and Amberly out one Friday night for ice cream shakes and came home with the Messiah Series by Bruce R. McConkie. It was on sale but still . . . I was planning to get them for him for Christmas. He was worried the sale wouldn't last. Anyway, in a weak moment, I hopped on that night and ordered the book for this month's book club. The deal was over.

Utah Dad maintains that the deal was never about money. After all, I buy my books used. I really don't spend that much. He says the deal was because I never read anything that he picks and he hoped that I would read something that interested him so that we can have a good discussion (we do read and discuss the Book of Mormon together--doesn't that count?). Well, I argued that he picked the text book on American slavery as a punishment not as a segway into a meaningful discussion. After all, it has been YEARS since he read it for a class. Couldn't he pick something a little more interesting--more likely to lead to this conversation he desires?

We reevaluated his choice of book and ignoring the suggestions that I made while looking at his shelves, he finally chose Neal A. Maxwell's two-part novel (yes, he wrote a novel--sort of) Of One Heart : The Glory of the City of Enoch and Look Back at Sodom : A timely account from imaginary Sodom Scrolls:. They are short and I read them yesterday.

In Of One Heart, Mahijah is a man finding peace and happiness through the teachings of Jesus Christ. As he follows the prophet Enoch and eventually moves to the city of Zion, he writes letters to his close friend Omner. In the style of The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis (we all know Lewis and Maxwell are buddies), Mahijah's letters to his friend detail his journey from skeptic to believer. The letters especially focus on the truth that as men come closer to God they treat their fellow men with more kindness and love. The book is filled with priceless Maxwellian thoughts. Here are just two of my favorites:

Without first seeking and acknowledging his Fatherhood, there can be no everlasting brotherhood of man (p 42).

When the inner man is changed, we have less and less need for outer controls (p 38).
The second part, published as a companion with Of One Heart is A Look Back at Sodom. This is a contrast and comparion to the City of Enoch. Sodom and it's neighboring cities were the most wicked places on earth and were eventually punished by being completely wiped from the face of the earth. The imaginary author of the Sodom Scrolls is a secretary to Abraham who is often sent on business to Lot who dwells in the land of Sodom.  Eliezer, the steward, writes of his observations of the wickedness. While this city is in sharp contrast to the beautiful and peaceful City of Enoch, the frightening thing is the images of our own day depicted in the words. 

I must quote a few of Maxwell's gems:

Adversity does not always produce appreciation, but affluence rarely does (p18).
Cleverness was more valued than goodness, and the truth of what a man said came to matter less than his manner of speech (p 19).

While I love Lewis and believe he was inspired, Maxwell has the benefit of the full truth and is equally gifted with words. I thoroughly enjoyed them and found the wisdom of Elder Maxwell inspiring. The books were originally published in 1975 and were reprinted in The Collected Works of Neal A. Maxwell.

P.S. Utah Dad and I did go to the Salt Lake City Library book sale this weekend. I limited myself to the $6 cash I had in my wallet. I walked away with eight books--three from my wish list, two that looked interesting and three for the kids. The book sale continues today. Hardback books are 50 cents and paperback books are 25 cents.



Momnerd said...

Wow, what an amazing sale! I love the Screwtape Letters, and these sound even more interesting. Can I borrow?

Booklogged said...

Love the quotes - that last one strongly resonates the attitudes of our day. Scary. Hope you and Utah Dad had some wonderful discussions about these two books.

And I so wish I lived close enough to go to the library sale.