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Miller, "Letters to a Young Mormon" (reviewed by Jaymie Reynolds) Options · View
Posted: Tuesday, March 04, 2014 7:08:49 AM

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Title: Letters to a Young Mormon
Author: Adam Miller
Publisher: Maxwell Institute/Brigham Young University
Genre: Non-fiction
Year: 2014
Pages: 78
Binding: Paperback
ISBN-13: 9780842528566
Price: $9.95

Reviewed by Jaymie Reynolds for the Association for Mormon Letters

"Dear S.,"

It seems unremarkable enough as a beginning. From there, though, "Letters to a Young Mormon" by Adam Miller rapidly escalates to a remarkable reading experience. This succinct book seeks to give gospel values an everyday context. Miller addresses each topic in the setting of real life well lived. He points out how those values have meaning even when one falls short in applying the ideals. Miller himself states, "I mean only to address the real beauty and real costs of trying to live a Mormon life. And I hope only to show something of what it means to live in a way that refuses to abandon either life or Mormonism."

Miller writes with a directness and depth that will challenge youth and adult readers to delve a bit more deeply into their own thoughts and beliefs. Readers may well find that, in order to grasp the full meaning behind each letter, they need to chew on Miller's words, feel the impact of those thoughts, and build a picture to plug those concepts into. With statements such as, "The more desperately 'worthy' of love you style yourself, the deader your faith in its graciousness will become. You cannot treat God's love as something to be earned while also trusting that God already loves you perfectly. This strategy belies your faith" and "Being good will save you a lot of trouble, but it won't solve the problem of sin. Only God can do this," Miller encourages readers to find God's grace in the possibilities of who they can become. More importantly, he seeks to help readers see that grace in what they already are.

Miller speaks clearly and concisely, but he doesn't dumb down or sugar coat his message. While this is, in theory, a short book that readers could plow through in a matter of hours, many readers may well find themselves spending time contemplating the idea covered in a letter. Such ideas, centered on basic concepts key to LDS doctrine, seem aimed at prompting readers to consider how such thoughts fit in their own world. Miller, by virtue of heartfelt and often logic-based expression, invites readers to build their own context for the doctrines that he is writing about. He doesn't seek to establish doctrine; rather, Miller seems to be seeking to let young readers know that doctrine has a valid and constant place in the regular course of their lives.

The target audience for this book is made clear in the title. At the same time, Miller addresses the content of the book in a manner that will challenge readers of all ages to connect with his writing a bit more personally. Youth may have to read this text more closely than they do other books. It is not a light read, in spite of the length. Adults may find that Miller's book urges them to see basic doctrines with fresh eyes.

While this book really is targeted toward readers of the LDS persuasion, some readers outside of the membership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will find it interesting to see how Miller applies LDS gospel concepts to daily life.

"Letters to a Young Mormon," though brief, will likely occupy more of its readers time than they are expecting, but such time will be enlightening and well worth the effort.
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