Saturday, August 27, 2016

Mormon Book Bits #24: LeGrand Richards, A Marvelous Work and A Wonder

Editor's note: This is # 24 in a series of posts by Dennis Horne about collectible books. The introduction is here.

            Elder Thomas S. Monson wrote:

            “LeGrand Richards was also a choice individual with whom to work. It was my opportunity to print for him the book A Marvelous Work and A Wonder, as well as Israel, Do You Know? When his manuscripts would come to us, they were prepared just as he spoke—all in one sentence. It was necessary for his administrative aid, Lee Palmer, from the Presiding Bishopric’s Office, to do a lot of editorial work on Brother Richards’ manuscripts with regard to grammar and sentence structure. I was impressed with the knowledge that LeGrand Richards would accept no royalty for his books, feeling that he wanted to keep the price as low as possible for the benefit of the membership of the Church. He still had a mortgage on his home and could have used the royalty. In fact, as time was to prove, A Marvelous Work and A Wonder became a runaway bestseller and would have produced literally hundreds of thousands of dollars for Brother Richards. He never regretted his decision and kept that particular book under-priced on the market as long as he lived, thanks to his refusal to accept a royalty. (Thomas S. Monson, On the Lord’s Errand [Salt Lake City: privately printed, 1985], 176-77.)

            Regarding A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, in 1983 Elder Richards said:

That’s the greatest missionary book the Church has got except the Book of Mormon. They sell more of it than any book they have except the Book of Mormon. At the present time they have distributed about two million copies; they distribute from fifty to a hundred thousand copies a year; have done for the last five years here out of Salt Lake and there is a printing plant over in England where they publish for all of the British Isles, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, and then it’s published in eighteen different languages in other nations. I had written an outline for my missionaries down in the South called “The Message of Mormonism.” I had that mimeographed and gave them each a copy and when I came home I got so many requests for that I said to myself—Why don’t I develop those outlines the way I would present them if I were going into a home one night a week for six months and that’s what brought the Marvelous Work and a Wonder into existence. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80icumy__CU; go to 43:30)

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Mormon Book Bits #26: Mark E. Petersen, The Way of the Master

Editor's note: This is # 25 in a series of posts by Dennis Horne about collectible books. The introduction is here.

            “As a reporter in 1932, [Mark] had covered a story on a man who announced the world would end in 1937. It seemed only logical to go on to study polygamists, dream-mine advocates, the Church of the Firstborn, and various other groups whose common denominator was their belief that the Church had gone astray. Mark found many good qualities in most of the members of these organizations, but he felt that their leadership was extremely misguided. He hoped that The Way of the Master might convince some of his ‘clients,’ as he called them, to reconsider the source of plural marriage. He was pleased when the First Presidency ordered a special edition of 5,000 copies to be sent to all the bishops and stake presidents in western America and wherever the polygamists might be” (Peggy Barton, Mark E. Petersen, 108).

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Mormon Book Bits #25: Thomas S. Monson, Conference Classics

Editor's note: This is # 25 in a series of posts by Dennis Horne about collectible books. The introduction is here.



             “After being in the Twelve for a considerable period, I observed that a number of people who were publishing books were, without my permission, quoting material which I had given in public addresses. Feeling that I indeed would like to have a permanent record of some of these accounts which I had experienced in my life and that I would like them to appear in a book which I authored, rather than in someone else’s volume, I at length determined to publish a book. Arrangements were made with Desert Book Company. I have a negative feeling about writing for profit; hence, I visited with Wilford W. Kirton so that any royalties that would accrue from my works would automatically go into a trust fund to assist our children in their desires to own homes of their own. (Thomas S. Monson, On the Lord’s Errand [Salt Lake City: privately printed, 1985], 329.)

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Mormon Book Bits #23: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (James E. Talmage), Latter-day Revelation

Editor's note: This is # 23 in a series of posts by Dennis Horne about collectible books. The introduction is here.

            Few people today, outside of LDS book collectors and historians, have heard of this short-lived official church publication. In his article, “The Living Canon,” Richard O. Cowan explained: “In 1930 the Church published a volume containing extracts from the Doctrine and Covenants. Entitled Latter-day Revelation, this collection presented forty-one of the sections in whole or in part. It was only about one-third as long as the regular edition of the Doctrine and Covenants. The book’s preface explained that many early revelations dealt only with individual callings or with conditions which existed only at a particular time. ‘Except as illustrative instances of the Lord’s way of directly communicating with His prophets, many of these revelations, once of present and pressing significance, became relatively of reduced importance with the passing of the conditions that had brought them forth.’ Under the direction of the First Presidency, Elder James E. Talmage had the responsibility of preparing the selection, and much of his time on weekends during the later months of 1930 was devoted to this project” (Hearken, O Ye People, 26).

            Further detail is found in Elder Talmage’s journal, which states: “[June 28, 1930] By prearrangement I sat with the First Presidency during the afternoon, and together we examined in detail the copy I had prepared for the prospective bringing out of a book containing extracts from the Doctrine and Covenants. The purpose of this undertaking is to make the strictly doctrinal parts of the Doctrine and Covenants of easy access, and to reduce its bulk, furthermore making it suitable for distribution by missionaries and for general use by investigators. Many of the revelations received by the prophet Joseph related to personal directions in temporal activities incident to the early years of the Church, the immediate importance of which was localized as to time and place. Part of my work in the immediate future will be the carrying of this book of extracts through the press.” A few months later he wrote: “[Sept. 13, 1930] Action by the First Presidency this day authorized procedure in bringing out the Doctrine and Covenants extracts along the lines recommended by the Council of the Twelve.”

            He was also able to record—“[Nov. 22, 1930] I had the pleasure of presenting to the First Presidency advance copies of the little book ‘Latter-day Revelation’ which is described on the title page as ‘Selections from the book of Doctrine and Covenants.’ The selections were decided upon by the First Presidency and Twelve and the matter of arranging, editing, proof-reading, etc., has been under my immediate direction, and I must be held personally responsible for the correctness of the type and matter.”

             On release of the book, a notice (probably written by Talmage) appeared in the Deseret News for November 24, 1930, clarifying that “In no sense is the new volume a substitution for the Doctrine and Covenants, which will be continued in publication as heretofore, but it comes as a welcome and convenient summary of many of the most important and impressive revelations, presented in attractive and readable style, so arranged as to make it easy to refer to the standard work for comparison and amplification when desired. ‘Latter-day Revelation’ will doubtless appeal to investigators in the mission fields, while it is equally desirable for home and class reading among the Latter-day Saints. Mechanically the book is strictly up to date and is a product of The Deseret News press and bindery, of which the establishment has good reason to be proud.” (A very similar review, written by Talmage, appeared in the June 1931 Improvement Era.)

            Despite the good intentions and hopes of wide usage of Elder Talmage and Church leaders in printing this book of extracts, it did not catch on in the manner desired, and only one edition was issued—it seemed that Latter-day Saints consistently desired more revelations, not less. Also, issues of “bulk” have changed because of fine thin onion-skin paper and the triple-combination.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Mormon Book Bits #22: J. Reuben Clark, Our Lord of the Gospels

Editor's note: This is # 22 in a series of posts by Dennis Horne about collectible books. The introduction is here.

            Elder Thomas S. Monson wrote the following account:

We met [with Elder Mark E. Petersen] in the office of J. Reuben Clark, Jr. President Clark advised me that he was going to prepare a book, a harmony of the Gospels, the preliminary work for which he had accomplished when he was a law student in his young manhood. President Clark retrieved from his roll-top desk pad after pad of yellow legal-size sheets which contained his handwriting concerning the manuscript. Brother Petersen then left the room, and I had the opportunity to become better acquainted with President Clark as he invited me to work with him on the book. Every working day for the next six or eight months I had a brief visit with President Clark, at his suggestion, as we put together the manuscript which became Our Lord of the Gospels….

During the course of President Clark’s research, he told me he wasn’t certain regarding a particular subject relating to the number of times the Savior had appeared since His resurrection. He gave me a particular number and then said, “Let me think about it over the weekend.” He had put a question mark by the number he had provided me.

            The following Sunday morning while I was at a meeting, Frances received a long distance telephone call from Grantsville, Utah. The caller said, “Is President Monson home?”

            She replied, “No; he’s at church.”

            The caller asked, “Do you think a bishop ought to be in church on Sunday?”

            I’m sure Frances wondered, who is this individual? She responded, however, “Oh, I would think so.”

            Then the caller said, “I would agree with you. This is President J. Reuben Clark. Would you have Brother Monson call me when he returns?”

            When I returned home and called President Clark, he simply said, “Tom, you may remove the question mark from the number I gave you. It is correct.”


            I felt President Clark had received a confirmation by the Spirit as well as through his research regarding the question which he had on the manuscript.” (Thomas S. Monson, On the Lord’s Errand [Salt Lake City: privately printed, 1985], 175-76)

Friday, July 29, 2016

Where to Find Authority on Doctrine

Editor's note: This is number 39 in a series of posts by Dennis Horne, sharing quotes from his book, Determining Doctrine: A Reference Guide for Evaluating Doctrinal Truth. You can read the introductory post here. The first part of each post is a new introduction, placing the quotes in context with contemporary issues. The quotes that then follow are from the Determining Doctrine book, which contains many quotes that are not readily available elsewhere or are exclusive to the book.

Edward H. Anderson (from the Improvement Era):

            A correspondent has written asking whether or not articles appearing in the Improvement Era, the Liahona, the Young Ladies’ Journal, the Relief Society Magazine, and other publications of the Church, may be quoted as authority on doctrine; and wishes us to answer how far these publications may be quoted, and just to what extent they can be taken as authority.  He cites, for example, an article by Elder Joseph Fielding Smith in the January number, 1916, of the Improvement Era, on the second death, entitled, “Is Man Immortal?”

            Replying, we will say that all writings, sermons, instructions and admonitions by the authorities of the Church are to be taken as authority as far as they agree with the printed word of revelation, as contained in the standard books of the Church, namely, the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.  Whatever any writer or speaker may express on doctrine should be considered as personal instructions, for which the person who speaks or writes is responsible, and not the Church.  Such instruction may be, and is, of great advantage and benefit to those who may listen or read, in aiding them to come to conclusions and to understand the word of the Lord, but as far as its being taken as authority, no instruction may be so taken in the way of doctrine except it shall be in strict conformity with the revealed word of the Lord, and in harmony with the teachings of the living prophet of the Lord.  We believe that the arguments set forth in the article referred to, “Is Man Immortal?” will stand this test.

            This should be remembered:  The Latter-day Saints believe in continuous revelation, and that the general authorities of the Church so designated and sustained, are in very deed prophets, seers and revelators to the people.  Also that whatever, under authorized conditions, the leaders of the Church, in their appointed places and positions, expound unitedly to the community, is the word of the Lord to the Latter-day Saints; and, as is stated in the Doctrine and Covenants, “Whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be Scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation.”  Those instructions we may look for continuously, because we believe in continuous revelation, and it is just as much an obligation upon the Latter-day Saints to conform to the instructions of the living oracles, as it is to believe and practice the principles of life and salvation, as explained in the standard works of the Church, the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.  All officers are subject to and should act in unison with the prophet, who, in turn, is subject to the inspiration and revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ.  (Edward H. Anderson, “Where to Find Authority on Doctrine,” Improvement Era, vol. 25 [1921-1922], 645-46.)

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Mormon Book Bits #21: Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine

Editor's note: This is # 21 in a series of posts by Dennis Horne about collectible books. The introduction is here.



Considered a standard today, meaning one of a series of books containing the teachings of modern prophets that has been compiled and edited and approved, Gospel Doctrine was compiled as a means of getting President Joseph F. Smith’s sermons into print for the benefit of members of the church in one collection.

Because it has been known as a standard collection of excerpts from a prophet’s sermons for so long, it is little known today that some small controversy among the Brethren greeted the first edition. The journal of Anthon H. Lund (one of Pres. Smith’s counselors) states that: “Some of the Apostles met and discussed Pres. Joseph F. Smith’s speech on Peter’s denial of Jesus and that it was not the unpardonable sin, because he did not have the Holy Ghost bestowed upon him. We think that it would have been better that this had not been put into a book for a text-book to the Priesthood. (September 9, 1919)

“We met with the Priesthood committee and talked over some points in Pres. Joseph F. Smith’s book used as a text-book in the Priesthood quorum. His belief is that Peter’s sin would have been a sin against the Holy Ghost if he had received it before hand, but as he did not receive it until after the resurrection of Christ, his offense was forgiven him. Also he holds that Judas not having received the Holy Ghost could not commit the unpardonable sin. These two propositions were defended by Joseph Fielding Smith Jr. and David O. McKay and Rudger Clawson. Pres. Charles W. Penrose felt they should be eliminated from the new edition. The mode of ordaining was also objected to as opposed to the Book of Mormon and to the practice under all foregoing Presidents and Pres. J. F. Smith himself said that he made no objection to the old method as it was just as good. There were several other points raised but it was agreed to print a new edition with an addenda printing the words of the President therein.” (September 10, 1919, Anthon H. Lund journal)

            Gospel Doctrine has not been a popular book to collect in first edition, mostly because that edition was noted for bad bindings with poor hinges. Still, those collectors determined to have the major Mormon works in first edition acquire it.