Mailbox Review: Unveiling Grace (3.5/5)

I received a copy of Lynn Wilder’s Unveiling Grace gratis from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review. Here are my thoughts on the book.

Lynn Wilder’s Unveiling Grace is a mother’s memoir of success and influence inside the Mormon church and Christ’s calling of her family out of it. Wilder, a one-time professor at Lynn Wilder The Story of How We Found Our Way Out of the Mormon ChurchBrigham Young University, and her husband spent more than thirty years inside Mormonism, having and raising children, converting their relatives, and working inside of super-secretive Mormon temples. Working their way toward holiness and eventual Godhood, the Wilders were relatively comfortable with their lives and were convinced that Joseph Smith was a true prophet…until their son, thousands of miles away on a Mormon mission, called home to say that Jesus now had too great a claim on his life for him to continue believing and following the Mormon church. The story leading up to and following that pivotal moment is an eye-opening look into the everyday culture of the largest pseudo-religion in the country, and an encouraging account of how Jesus Christ saved one family from it a member at a time.

Vastly informative about Mormon life and culture, Unveiling Grace has the distinction of being a great deal more than a handbook for debunking Mormonism—those typical texts with lists of doctrinal weakness cross-listed against effective techniques for shutting their mouths before you shut your door. It is the personal and personable account of what real Mormons think, feel, and do—the hopes that motivate them, the lies they are told, and the experiences that finally lead them to question their way of life. This is the type of work that fuels real evangelism, rather than the argumentative pugilism of mere apologetics.

Unfortunately, the book’s strength (its personal and personable tone) is also a significant weakness. The book reads like a memoir, but more than that it reads like the memoir of an Evangelical wife and mother, with a very feminine perception, idiom, and tone. These elements, though not faulty in their own right, make the work less engaging to female readers of different temperaments and to male readers general, unintentionally narrowing its ideal audience. Nevertheless, the appendices comparing basic Christian beliefs to those of Mormonism, and defining commonly used theological terms as Mormons understand and use them were add significant value to the book. All in all, though, the book is a rare and important look at the inner workings of a secretive group through the eyes of people with extensive access, and a message of hope to those praying and laboring for the salvation of their Mormon neighbors.

Mailbox Review: Seven Men

A mailbox review of Eric Metaxas’ Seven Men

Metaxas consciously places his Seven Men in the tradition of Plutarch’s Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans or Foxe’s Book of Martyrs—biographical works intended chiefly to hold up the conduct and character of certain men as examples for readers to emulate (or avoid). He has sketched the lives of seven famed Christian men in order to commend their exemplarySevenMenCoverArt behavior to all readers, but especially to young men, who “especially need role models. If we can’t point to anyone in history or in our culture whom they should emulate, then they will emulate whomever.” With that in mind, he has selected seven figures who share the distinction of “Christian manliness,” and recounted their amazing lives in elegant and natural prose.

The lives Metaxas has chosen are remarkable and the men who lived them deserve to be talked about and lifted up as examples of Godly obedience: William Wilberforce and his lifelong crusade to end slavery, George Washington’s refusal to become a tyrant after the war, Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s outspoken opposition to religious apathy in Nazi Germany, Eric Liddell’s refusal to run his best Olympic event on the Sabbath and his death as a humble missionary to China, Jackie Robinson’s victorious example of Christic submission in the face of slander and violence, Pope John Paul II’s vigor Continue reading

Mailbox Review: The Lamb’s Agenda by Samuel Rodriguez

A mailbox review of Samuel Rodriguez’s The Lamb’s Agenda:

The Lamb’s Agenda is Samuel Rodriguez’s vision for a cultural transformation of America. The vision is almost utopic: “Envision,” he Samuel Rodriguez why Jesus is calling you to a life of righteousness and justicewrites, “a village or town or suburb or city anywhere in North America on a lazy, late Sunday morning in May,” where every beautiful flower is in bloom and every last man, woman, and child (except the hospital’s “skeleton ER crew treating the occasional bee sting or broken ankle”) is in Church worshipping God. He asks us again to “envision” the victorious march that led America to that future, a peaceful and powerful movement he refers to as “the Third Great Awakening.” The impetus that is meant to drive this movement is a combination of two historical American spirits (and Rodriquez’s personal heroes): the evangelical zeal of Billy Graham and the social activism of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The “Lamb’s agenda” is an analogy within an analogy, like an awkwardly designed set of Russian nesting dolls, Continue reading

The Proverbs 31 Woman in Short Skirt/Long Jacket

cake short skirt long jacket how to become a proverbs 31 woman, she is clothed in strength and dignity and she laughs at the future

While I’ve always enjoyed Cake’s “Short Skirt, Long Jacket I had also always assumed it was a little lewd or racy—after all, they keep talking about short skirts and wanting a girl. Recently the t.v. series, Chuck, even used the song in its credits, drawing an implicit connection to the shows savvy, often-scantily-clad female secret-agent-type character. Upon greater reflection, though, I realized that I’ve been coming away with the wrong impression all these years. Upon closer scrutiny the song not only reveals itself to be downright wholesome, but its subject—this girl with the skirt and jacket—turns out to be nothing less than a modern approximation of the Proverbs 31 woman. Let me show you what I mean through a side-by-side comparison.

I want a girl with a mind like a diamond
I want a girl who knows what’s best

So opens Short Skirt/Long Jacket. Likewise, the God-fearing Woman passage of Proverbs begins this way:

An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels. 10.
The heart of her husband trusts in here,
and he will have no lack of grain. 11.

“An excellent wife who can find,” roughly translated for the purposes of application, means “you should want an excellent girl for a wife.” The girl with a mind like a diamond is far more precious than diamonds themselves, and her husband can trust in her because she “knows what’s best.” Still not convinced? The rest lines up pretty neatly: Continue reading

Brothers K: Socialism is Atheism

…”If he had decided that immortality and God do not exist, he would immediately have joined the atheists and socialists (for socialism is not only the labor question or the question of the so-called fourth estate, but first of all the question of atheism, the question of the modern embodiment of atheism, the question of the Tower of Babel built precisely without God, not to go from earth to heaven but to bring heaven down to earth).”
The Brothers Karamazov, pg. 26