Inspiring stories from athletes and others seeking spiritual glory.
In his own delightful words, Herschel N. Pedersen (BA ’56) shares Stories from My Life (Digital Legend; 230 pp.; $19.95). This book, edited by Don E. Norton Jr. (BFA ’59) and Joanne B. Fillmore (BA ’67), with a foreword by George D. Durrant (BS ’56), details the transformation of a shy, 6-foot-7, rough-cut youth into a sharpened arrow in the quiver of the Lord and one of BYU’s most esteemed alumni. Pedersen, nicknamed “Bones” by his basketball coaches, didn’t look like much: in 1948, a General Authority told him and his fellow missionaries at the Salt Lake Mission Home, “You are a sorry-looking lot. But if this is the best the Lord’s got, I guess He’ll just have to use you.” Pedersen resolved, “Yes, I’m a sorry looking piece of humanity, but I’m the best the Lord has got, so He’ll just have to use me” (pp. 35–36).
Pedersen became an innovative, outstanding missionary and starred for the Danish Mission basketball team, the U.S. Army team, and Stan Watts’ BYU Cougars. Above all, he burned with gospel fervor. Pedersen’s rare, “aw shucks” gift of touching hearts and transforming lives sweeps readers through story after story, as he recounts his basketball career as well as his ministry among the Danish people, fellow workers at Geneva Steel, in wards and stakes, in temple and missionary preparation courses, as mission representative to the Quorum of the Twelve, as New Zealand mission president, as a senior missionary with his wife, Shirley, and as a sealer in the Mt. Timpanogos Temple. At each step in his ministry, Pedersen saw his fellow beings as slumbering children of God waiting to be awakened to their destiny. When the Lord asks, “Is any thing too hard for the Lord?” (Gen. 18:14), He can be sure the answer is no, especially if Herschel Pedersen is on the case.
After paying obeisance to BYU’s pantheon of legendary quarterbacks and running backs, many of us sidelined Cougars turn reverently to BYU’s stellar hunks—linemen—and think at once of Chad W. Lewis (BA ’97), who is still ranked among the best tight ends in the nation. Noted for his one-handed catches, game-changing blocked kicks, 111 receptions for 1,376 yards and 10 touchdowns, Lewis is the model of the BYU athlete. An Orem High School star, he served a mission to Mandarin-speaking Taichung, Taiwan. At BYU he walked on as tight end, all 6 feet 6 inches and 252 lbs. of him, and trotted away with numerous honors, including College Academic All-America, All-WAC Academic, and the College Football Association All-Academic team honors. After graduating from BYU in communications studies, Lewis played professionally with the Philadelphia Eagles and the St. Louis Rams. He started at tight end for nine seasons, was selected to the Pro Bowl three times, and helped both the Rams and Eagles to Super Bowl appearances. Lewis and his wife, Michele (herself an athlete), live in Cedar Hills, Utah, with their seven children. His exciting autobiography, Surround Yourself with Greatness, with a foreword by Steve Young (BA ’84) (Shadow Mountain; 406 pp.; $25.99), makes clear the secret of his athletic achievement. It describes the rigorous, painful, bruising life of the professional football player and the world-class physical, emotional, and mental conditioning and dedication of a pro athlete. But it is more: Chad Lewis’ higher aim, “to surround [him]self with greatness,” developed through his remarkable ability to find, articulate, and emulate the greatness in those about him—his family, his missionary companions, coaches, trainers, neighbors, friends, teammates, and opponents. This refreshing book is about strong people whose friendship, character, and goodness help shape an exemplary life.
In Choosing Glory (These Are Great Days Publishing; 242 pp.; $18.95), Lili De Hoyos Anderson (BS ’75) reminds readers that as children of a glorious deity, “We are born for glory” (p. 1) and are engaged in choosing our eventual glory. Anderson has written an outstanding practical handbook for individual, marriage, and family counseling that both lay readers and clinicians will welcome. Anderson applies the laws governing the concepts of the realms of glory (celestial, terrestrial, and telestial) and the laws governing each of those kingdoms (“And unto every kingdom is given a law; and unto every law there are certain bounds also and conditions” [D&C 88:38, see also 88: 22–24, 36–39]). She teaches that, similarly, the laws we choose to follow in mortality provide boundaries that prepare us for or hinder us from reaching the terrestrial or, eventually, the celestial realms. Anderson, a wife, mother, veteran marriage and family professional, and part-time professor at BYU, cites trenchant evidence that we are living in an increasingly toxic environment that is intolerable for those who desire to live according to a higher law and glory. Anderson counters our telestial tendencies with practical and spiritual solutions for getting ourselves and our families on course for glory and advises on how we can apply the three-realm framework to “a number of life’s concerns and challenges” and find safety for ourselves and our families by making wise and considered choices daily in dating, marriage, parenting, managing stress, and progressing (p. 2).
Shawn D. Moon (BA ’98) has written On Your Own: A Young Adults’ Guide to Making Smart Decisions, with a foreword by Sean Covey (BA ’90) (CFI; 196 pp.; $14.99), a delightful guidebook for Latter-day Saint young adults entering the phase of adulthood when they make decisions that will determine the course of their lives. The book includes eight chapters fraught with good counsel on spiritual matters, education, vocation, finances, leadership, dating, marriage, and happiness. It’s a fun read; Moon packs this practical and engaging guidebook with thoughtful and motivating stories. Newly minted young adults ought to read this book—and it’s not a bad recharger for earth-worn veterans either.
Temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Thunder Bay Press; 224 pp.; $34.95) is a beautiful, full-color Pero table volume. In oversized format, it presents a sheaf of fascinating details about 129 temples (including the Draper Utah Temple), describing each temple’s architecture, back- ground, design, style, and materials, along with other information. Also included is an illustrated guide to the symbols on the exterior of the Salt Lake Temple, as well as a comparative overview of all Latter-day Saint temples.
Richard H. Cracroft is BYU’s Nan Osmond Grass Professor in English, emeritus.
A Flourish of Recent Latter-day Saint Fiction
The Best of Mormonism, edited by Stephen R. Carter, with an introduction by Phyllis Barber (Curelom Books; 163 pp.; $14.95), is a literary collection of works by 16 authors. It initiates a series of the best Latter-day Saint fiction, personal essay, poetry, and playwriting published nationally. This fine collection of LDS literature adds “a few more essential stones in the foundation of our literary heritage” (p. xii).
With great affection, humor, and compassion, Todd R. Petersen’s welcome debut, Rift, a Novel (Zarahemla Books; 340 pp.; $16.95), throws open a window upon little Sanpete, Utah; Petersen describes the foibles, kindness, and generosity of its people in prose that rings like a bell, and is centered in the deftly developed and unforgettable character of Jens Thorsen. This novel is how Latter-day Saint fiction should be done.
Bound on Earth, a Novel (Parables; 197 pp.; $12.95) comprises 17 interconnected stories exploring the struggles that test and try the ties that bind the Palmer family across several generations (1856–2007). Author Angela S. Hallstrom (BA ’94) teaches creative writing at the BYU Salt Lake Center.
In Brianna, My Brother, and the Blog, a Novel (Deseret Book; 165 pp; $14.95), Jack A. Weyland (PhD ’69), the all-time favorite Latter-day Saint young adult author, delivers another fun novel as Austin, the brother of Brianna’s missionary, Robbie, steps in to help Brianna “wait”—uh-oh.
In Remarkably Jane: Notable Quotations on Jane Austen (Gibbs Smith; 128 pp.; $14.99), Jennifer Adams shares 100 quotations, pro and con, on Jane Austen and her writing from well-known authors, critics, and pundits, as well as actors and directors of film adaptations of her novels. A delightful read indeed!