Read Dialogues With Myself Personal Essays on Mormon Experience by Eugene England Free Online
Book Title: Dialogues With Myself Personal Essays on Mormon Experience|
The author of the book: Eugene England
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Reader ratings: 6.8
Edition: Signature Books
Date of issue: June 1st 1984
ISBN 13: 9780941214216
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 746 KB
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"I believe 'Mormonism' affords opportunity . . . for thoughtful disciples who will not be content with merely repeating some of its truths, but will develop its truths; and enlarge it by that development. . . . The disciples of 'Mormonism,' growing discontented with the necessarily primitive methods which have hitherto prevailed in sustaining the doctrine, will yet take profounder and broader views of the great doctrines committed to the Church; and, departing from mere repetition, will cast them in new formulas; cooperating in the works of the Spirit, until they help to give to the truths received a more forceful expression, and carry it beyond the earlier and cruder stages of its development." – B. H. Roberts (pp. 72)
This passage, quoted in two separate essays within this wonderful anthology, accurately describes Eugene England’s engaged, thoughtful approach to living the gospel as a Mormon. Next to Lowell Bennion (who, unsurprisingly, was one of England’s mentors), England may well be the most sincere, powerfully vulnerable and emotive writer Mormonism has ever produced. One cannot read these essays without acknowledging his raw integrity, his refreshing honesty. I appreciated his insights borne from his wrestles with some of the knottiest problems of existence and, more particularly, Mormonism.
Despite the fact that all of these essays were written pre-1985, nearly all of them still feel relevant to the 21st century Mormon (indeed, they may be more relevant today than ever before). The place of the individual relative to the institution; the wrestle between faith and doubt; the challenges of being a Mormon intellectual; challenging and transcending cultural Mormonism, etc. – these are just a few of the themes England tackles in each of these essays. Though some of his answers and conclusions are more satisfying than others, all are helpful in getting one to think more critically about these important issues.
For those curious, these are the essays included in this anthology:
- Joseph Smith and the Tragic Quest
- Obedience, Integrity, and the Paradox of Selfhood
- The Possibility of Dialogue
- Letter to a College Student
- Speaking the Truth in Love
- Great Books or True Religion? Defining the Mormon Scholar
- That They Might Not Suffer: The Gift of the Atonement
- How Can God Be Both Good and Powerful?
- Blessing the Chevrolet
- Going to Conference
- The Hosanna Shout in Washington, D. C.
- The Mormon Cross
- Can Nations Love Their Enemies? An LDS Theology of Peace
- We Need to Liberate Mormon Men!
- What It Means to Be a Mormon Christian
I would recommend this collection of essays for anyone seeking a more intellectually stimulating, yet still practically applicable, approach to Mormonism. England’s way of thinking about Mormonism has been tremendously influential to me in my own faith journey – one full of joy and sorrow, hope and despair, faith and doubt. As England would say, the journey towards transcendence is a paradoxical one that requires engaging polarities – “proving contraries”—, and not merely picking sides:
"Those who . . . would exalt the isolated individual conscience into an absolute and also those who . . . would exalt obedience to society's judgment into an absolute, all need to learn to honor Oliver Cromwell's famous plea, 'I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, consider that you may be wrong.' . . . [we ought to] preserve and transcend the paradox, rather than . . . oversimplify it into a battle and . . . choose a side." (pp. 32-33)
"[Paul wrote,] 'Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.' . . . 'Prove all things': consider all things; look at all possibilities; examine your inherited prejudices and evaluate again even your cherished beliefs; be open to what might be a new understanding -- a new faith. . . . He also said, 'Hold fast that which is good': respect certitude as well as doubt, commit yourself to the good you find, give yourself to the possibilities that begin to prove out, live the faith that is given you in your seeking -- however deeply you continue to test that faith and examine others. . . . The very principles I accept as definitive in my life warn me to be continually open to the revelation of new possibilities for my life from both God and man." (pp. 39-40)
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