Friday, September 14, 2007

Believing and Following

I'm a bit of a late-comer to these two absolutely incredible books by Stephen E. Robinson. I'm genuinely surprised at how consistently amazing Robinson is at condensing a gospel principle into understandable terms. Though unfortunately and consistently, "the good news" seems to be misunderstood and misapplied by people around the world who should know better (me included). These books have really helped me look at mankind's spiritual journey with fresh eyes (or to paraphrase C.S. Lewis, to look along the beam of light rather than looking at it.)

Believing Christ is particularly great at showing how there is hope for the imperfect individual within the gospel covenant, and how Christ's grace functions to save mankind. Our best efforts (whatever that may mean depending on the individual), coupled with the atonement of Christ will make us whole in God's kingdom. I love the many illustrations and analogies he draws that helped me grasp the concepts in the book, particularly the weight room analogy (because it is easy to get caught up in feelings of embarrassment or inadequacy when you are unable to lift the barbell that last time, but it is so important to realize that the real strength is gained when we are working at the limits of our abilities).

Following Christ aided me in understanding that principle based living helps us continue in the good news after having entered into our covenant relationship with Christ. If only all Christians within and without the LDS faith (certainly me included) would invest more energy into what Robinson calls the Prime Directive. Quoting Paul,

"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I
am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the
gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though
I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I
am nothing...Charity never faileth...And now abideth faith, hope and
charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity." (1 Cor. 13)

That is amazing to really think about. Even if I pay all my tithing, and go to the temple every week, and serve in three church callings, and have 2 Doctorate degrees, and understand the scriptures forwards and back, and have faith to do about anything...if I'm not filled with love towards God and my neighbors (difficult ones included) I am nothing. Robinson says "the heart and soul of the gospel is love, and all the rest is commentary."


Jen said...

I especially love how he talks about God's Kingdom-how people view it as a far off future event, when we should be reaping the benefits now, instead of pining away for the future. Great books.

Josh said...

I found the Levis poem "In the City of Light" here and wanted to say thanks for posting it. I wanted to post it on my blog this morning and you made it so I didn't have to retype it.

Also, looks like an interesting blog you've got here. I'll be sure to check back.

Are the books you mention in this post LDS?

Les said...


Larry Levis is incredible. I'm not really well read, especially when it comes to poetry, but I can safely say that his Larry's poetry has moved me more than any other.

Glad you found what you were looking for.

The books in this post were authored by a man who is LDS.

I read quite a bit on your blogs. I wish I had spend more time on poetry in college.

Josh said...

If you ever need a poetry/poet recommendation, let me know. I'm your huckleberry....

I reread "The Poet at Seventeen" today on the bus coming home. Blew me a way. Know that one? Maybe I'll post it on my blog tonight if I have time.

Other theologians you read? Recommendations?

Les said...


I thank you in advance for your willingness to offer poetry recommendations. Please, I would LOVE some. I've read a lot of:

Larry Levis
Phillip Levine
Anne Sexton
Sylvia Plath
Robert Frost
W.B. Yeats
Walt Whitman
Emily Dickinson
William Carlos Williams
T.S. Eliot (didn't like much)

and quite a bit of:
Billy Collins
John Ashbery
Elizabeth Bishop
...and other commonly anthologized poets.

I trust your taste, based on what I read on your blogs, so give me a list and I'll read it.