Some books get just enough push and hype that you realize you really need to read it so you can be part of the discussion. Planted was definitely one of those books for me. Quite a few people in the Bloggernacle have praised it, and as soon as I read just a few pages out of it I knew I wanted to add my chorus to those praises.
“[…] God created us in all our sexual, racial, and cultural differences, precisely so that we could learn from the unique gifts of others and then glorify God for the gift of his diverse creation.”
Brother Mason is a scholar and active LDS member. He states in his introduction that he wrote this book after having many discussions with people at various levels of faith, and felt the need to address the feelings of doubt that get brought up. It’s a book not just for those who question and have doubts, but for those who feel more solid in their faith and testimony and want to know what they can do to help those who do experience doubt. As someone who has been on both sides of that fence, I felt Brother Mason did a good job of covering a lot of ground. It’s not comprehensive to be sure, but he does provide an excellent bibliography of other books and talks and articles to read tailored to more specific questions one may have. Having only read about 15 of the listed sources, I’m looking forward to adding more to my “church TBR” list.
“We must constantly remember, in [Eugene] England’s wise words, that ‘the Church is not a place to go for comfort, to get our own prejudices validated, but a place to comfort others, even to be afflicted by them.’ The path of ease, recognition, and casual sameness is not the way of the cross Christ calls us to bear.”
One of the things I really appreciate about this book is the frank and understanding tone Brother Mason uses. It’s like a good friend is offering useful advice and telling a few good stories, too. He uses clear language to explain a few troubling moments in LDS history, giving the reader an example of how they can not only frame the questions they may have, but also how to properly seek out answers (or at least reconciliations) for themselves. He constantly reminds the reader that this is a church of continuing revelation, that something that we find troubling now was viewed differently in the past (and led me to think of what “normal” things the Church does now that 50, 70, or 150 years from now will seem weird and troubling). I highly recommend this book as an exercise in thought, and a boost for discussion among friends and family. It’s a reassuring hug that though the people in this Church are not perfect, the gospel is, and you will find answers to the questions you have.