Every Good Thing: Talks from the 1997 BYU Women's Conference
Dawn Hall Anderson, Dlora Hall Dalton, Susette Fletcher Green
Robin B VanderRoest
Deseret Book , 1998. Hardcover:
Suggested retail price: $18.95 (US)
This book includes selected essays from the annual women'sconference, co-sponsored by Brigham Young University and bythe Relief Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is the twelfth in a series of such books,and follows the same general format as prior volumes. Sincethe conference was for adult women, this volume is clearlytargeted to adult women, but I would commend it to ourbrothers, as well.
There are eight general sections, each containing severalessays and poems:
"Laying Hold Upon Every Good Thing" -- This sectionintroduces the theme of the conference, to lay hold uponevery good thing, which is taken from Moroni 7: 19.
"An Introduction to the Presidency" -- These three essaysintroduce us to our relatively new general Relief Societypresidency, Sisters Mary Ellen W. Smoot; Virginia U. Jensen;and Sheri L. Dew.
"Tipping the Scales" -- Here we read several essays aboutservice, especially in the community (as opposed to solelywithin the church).
"The Unexpected Life" -- All of the essays in this sectionwere first-person accounts of women dealing with their own"heartaches, losses, and disappointments."
"Parenting Grab Bag" -- This section is just what it claimsto be, and includes insights on parenting, in differentfamily situations.
"Balancing Acts" -- These essays address some of thebalancing acts women face, including nurturing our owntalents; developing our own financial know-how; schedulingour own use of our time.
"Covenant Making" -- Here we read of the power of covenants;our understanding of temple covenants; and the importance ofpersonally learning of Christ.
"Texts and Contexts" -- This last section shares insights onstudying our scriptures, and on writing the church's storytoday.
This book contains thirty-nine essays and poems, which makesan overall review somewhat challenging. Let me start byacknowledging that I have bought each book in this series,as soon as it was available, without waiting for anyoneelse's recommendation. I believe these books capture theflavor of the conferences themselves: a mix of scholarlyinsights; sobering real-life experiences; wry and humorousaccounts of our day-to-day learning; and moments thatmotivate us to change our own lives. This newest volumedoes the same.
The mix of essays ensures that every reader should findsomething of interest. The corollary, of course, is that youwon't madly love and quote every word. My experience wasthat all the essays were well worth reading, but some weremore in tune with my own situation, personality, andexperiences. Following are thoughts on a few of the essays.
Wendy L. Watson's article, "Searching Diligently in theLight of Christ," begins with an interesting discussion ofsix beliefs that "prevent women from laying hold upon everygood thing." She then distinguishes between superficiallytouching good things, and truly "laying hold" upon them. Finally, she talks about finding "good things" in thosearound us. This article offers much of benefit to womentoday.
Sheri L. Dew, in her essay "Practice Makes Perfect," teachesthe simple truth that we aren't born with great spiritualskills -- we need to practice and develop them. Sheintroduces this topic with a terrific snow story, whichyou'll have to read for yourself.
The five essays in the "Unexpected Life" section are allfirst-person narratives by women who have experiencedpowerful challenges in their lives: loss of loved ones;abuse; extended illness. These women share their experienceswith the hope of aiding another who is experiencing grief insome form; they are all well worth reading.
The "Parenting Grab Bag" was fascinating reading, even for anon-parent like myself. James M. Harper's story of theceramic turtle will surely become a classic in learning todeal with our mistakes. Lisa O. Fillerup's experience givesme hope that we too (my husband and I) can "do better; bebetter."
As women (and men!) strive to become scholars of thescriptures, there are many tools we can learn to use, andinsights which can assist us. For instance, Jeni BrobergHolzapfel and Richard Neitzel Holzapfel, in their essay "TheLast to Remain and the First to Return," teach that when westudy the New Testament, we need to have the proper image inmind, so that we can understand what is really going on. They then proceed to present historical and social contexts,and open the scriptures based on this new understanding. This was fascinating reading!
I've noted just a handful of the articles which caught myattention, or particularly moved me, or stayed on my mind.By all means, dig in and study them all, for there is muchto glean!
There were just three things which I found annoying in thisvolume. First, I missed the poetry! Past volumes seem tohave included more poetry among the essays; this volumeincludes just two poems (plus the poetry which severalessayists included in their articles).
Second, several articles included a URL where the articlecould be found on the Internet. Knowing that the web is afluid entity, continually changing, it seems unwise toinclude the URLs in books which will likely be referencedfor years. Actually, I tried to look up these URLs beforewriting this review, and already they seemed to be obsolete,since I could find none of them. (Maybe they were justobsolete that particular day.)
Finally, several articles included the announcement that theessay was ". . . available on audiocassette from DeseretBook . . ." Perhaps I'm overly sensitive, but I perceivedthis as blatant and inappropriate advertising.
Robin VanderRoest Kalamazoo MI robin_v@Juno.com firstname.lastname@example.org
© 1998 Robin B VanderRoest < email@example.com >