Wednesday, June 24, 2009
HOW BEING AN AUTHOR HAS INFLUENCED MY TESTIMONY OF JOSEPH SMITH AND THE BOOK OF MORMON
I've been a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since I was eight-years-old. The story of my conversion is unremarkable in and of itself. We were renting a home from an LDS (Mormon) family, and one day the owner asked my mother what was then called "the golden question"--"What do you know about the Mormons, and would you like to know more."
My family was taught the Gospel by a missionary couple, we read the Book of Mormon, and within a few months, three of us--my mother, my brother and I--were baptized.
I grew up in the church, was sealed in the temple and raised my family under the umbrella of the Gospel. When my children were young, I had an experience that made me realize I had become spiritually lazy, and I began to study and pray anew. I wanted to receive a personal witness--one that was completely mine as an adult--that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, and that the Book of Mormon was true. I knew someday my sweet little children would come to me and ask, "Mom, is it really true?" I wanted to be able to look them in the eyes and answer, without any reservations, "Yes, my darlings, it is." And not because someone told me it was true, but because I prayed and received my answer.
I did receive my answer. It came in a deeply personal and marvelous way, and I look back and recall the moment often, with sweetness when life gets hard and when hope runs thin. There is so much comfort in knowing Joseph Smith was called by God to be the Prophet of the Restoration, and that the Book of Mormon was divinely given through the translation work Joseph Smith was called to perform. A living prophet on the earth makes all the difference.
I know these things by a witness of the Spirit. But I have an equally strong practical witness of these things, and it came through my work as an author. Consider these points with me:
It takes me about a year to produce a historical volume. My first book required three years of research and writing.
I was in my forties when I began writing, acquainted with life and it's complexities, experience that helps give credibility to my work. I've had years to gain some understanding of families and their complex concerns so I can write about families with experience.
I write, edit, delete and rewrite the same sections over and over until I feel comfortable with the text. I always review my previous day's work to assure clarity and continuity before I begin a new section.
I have access to libraries and the Internet.
I have a computer with word processing and editing capabilities.
I have the financial resources that free time for me to write.
I have dictionaries, encyclopedias, foreign language dictionaries and dozens of other reference books to help me conduct my research.
I went to college.
I travel extensively to the sites about which I am writing. I interview the curators of each place.
I have a camera with which to take numerous photos to revive my memory when I'm back home and writing.
I interview, and maintain correspondence with, historians who feed me critical information.
I've spent over forty years studying the Gospel and yet I still need to take time to reread and study scriptural passages before incorporating them into my work.
Again, even using all these tools, it took me three years to write the first volume.
I don't think my experience is singular. Ask any author.
Now click this link and watch this video about Joseph Smith's experience bringing forth the Book of Mormon. Ask yourself if he could have merely "written" it.