Latter-day Saint History

Let’s Talk About Church History Books

The series provides candid introductions to weighty issues.

Deseret Book’s “Let’s Talk About” series provides candid introductions to weighty issues, including several about the Prophet Joseph Smith. It was launched in 2021 and comprises nine books, including Let’s Talk About Race and Priesthood, Let’s Talk About the Law of Consecration, and Let’s Talk About Faith and Intellect. Authors are drawn from each field’s most knowledgeable scholars, and include well-known names such as W. Paul Reeves, Terryl Givens, and Steven C. Harper. This article provides book summaries, access to our exclusive author interviews and links to buy the books.

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Let’s Talk About the Book of Abraham

The Book of Abraham is a doctrinal and literary powerhouse. Its contributions to Latter-day Saint theology are both central and legion. At the same time, Joseph Smith’s claims to have translated the ancient scripture from Egyptian papyri has drawn a fair amount of criticism. Our interview with author Kerry Muhlestein covers topics such as Joseph Smith’s translation activities, the role of the Egyptian fragments, and the issue of historicity.

Let’s Talk About Faith and Intellect

Faith and intellect are both essential tools in our journey to learn about and become like God. They’re also often seen as being opposites. Our interview with author Terryl Givens talks about how belief and reasoning complement our efforts to draw closer to Christ. That includes a discussion about what he calls “cheap intellectualism,” as well as tips for becoming better truth seekers.

Let’s Talk About the Law of Consecration

The Law of Consecration is closely tied to the early history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It also plays an essential role for contemporary church members as one of the covenants included in the Latter-day Saint temple endowment. Our interview with author Steven C. Harper addresses historical details, common misunderstandings, and inspirational motivations behind the Law of Consecration.

Let’s Talk About Polygamy

Plural marriage is one of the most controversial aspects of Latter-day Saint history. Joseph Smith initiated the practice and gradually included other participants before it took off in Utah and was eventually discontinued through a series of official manifestos. Our interview with author Brittany Chapman Nash covers the biggest details associated with polygamy and includes a candid look at how it was both loved and loathed by participants.

Let’s Talk About Race and Priesthood

There’s an extraordinary amount of source material detailing the relationship between race and priesthood in Latter-day Saint history. At the same time, it’s an issue that has been muddied for a variety of reasons. Our interview with author W. Paul Reeve dives into the main issues and examines how and why they’ve been challenging to understand—and talk about. We discuss Brigham Young, Spencer W. Kimball, the 1978 priesthood revelation, and more.

Let’s Talk About Religion and Mental Health

There is a strong relationship between religion and mental health. This book includes a frank discussion of Latter-day Saint struggles with issues such as anxiety and depression. We haven’t done an interview with the author, Daniel K. Judd. However, we recommend this review from the Association of Mormon Letters if you’d like to learn more.

Let’s Talk About Science and Religion

Science and religion have long been adversaries in discussions about faith, but they don’t need to be that way. Similar to Deseret Book’s Let’s Talk About Faith and Intellect, this contribution explores how the two can work together. Our interview with author Jamie L. Jensen ranges from discussions of atheism and the “god of the gaps” to uncertainty and President Nelson’s comments about science and religion.

Let’s Talk About Temples and Ritual

Temples and rituals have a long history of being used to help people draw closer to God. The common threads between modern and ancient practices add depth while also creating room for confusion. In our interview with author Jennifer C. Lane, we discuss a wide variety of related issues.

Let’s Talk About the Translation of the Book of Mormon

Joseph Smith said that he translated the Book of Mormon by the “gift and power of God,” but it’s unclear exactly what he meant. That leaves modern church members with plenty of questions about things like gold plates, seer stones, and witnesses. Our interview with authors Michael Hubbard MacKay and Gerrit J. Dirkmaat discuss all of these issues—and more.

Further reading

Let’s Talk About series resources

By Kurt Manwaring

Writer. History nerd. Latter-day Saint.

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