Mormonism For Beginners

by James Canfield, For Beginners

“Pithy, engaging, transparent, and accessible:  Mormonism For Beginners is all the things that outsiders think Mormonism isn’t. Jett Atwood’s clever illustrations provide the perfect complement to Stephen Carter’s sparkling prose.  Efficiently covering the bases from history to scripture to hot-button issues, this book will give you all you need to know to impress your Mormon friends.

—Patrick Q. Mason, Howard W. Hunter Chair of Mormon Studies, Claremont Graduate University

9781939994523Written by Stephen Carter and illustrated by Jett Atwood, Mormonism For Beginners illuminates both a belief system and a way of life that were born in America but remain little understood to the present day. From the start, Carter lays down a clear foundation of themes and subjects to be covered in the book. He then brilliantly discusses every building block of Mormon belief, practice, history, and lifestyle in terms anyone can understand.

Together, Carter and Atwood present the Mormon faith and LDS Church with the knowledge of insiders but an honesty, objectivity, and sense of humor that well serve the uninitiated reader. Carter presents a succinct, lively history of Mormonism—how it came to be, and how its “organized spirit of cooperation” was the binding force that helped early members endure hardship and persecution, find a home, and settle into communal life. He also discusses LDS scripture, Mormon life and values (their emphasis on communalism, marriage and the family, the Church, and mission work). And finally, it offers candid, balanced discussions of such “hot-button” issues as race and the priesthood, the role of women, and LGBT life. Jett Atwood’s illustrations elevate the text while adding a humorous touch.

A Mormon himself, Stephen Carter takes us on an informative and historical journey, explaining along the way how Mormonism became viewed as not only a religion, but also as a subculture. The entire faith revolves around the teachings of Jesus Christ and emphasizes the importance of following in his footsteps. Mormons commonly serve on missions where they share the word of the gospel as a means of showing and spreading their love for fellow people as well as for their lord and savior.

In the foreword, American writer and editor Jana Riess writes: “Mormonism is everywhere, but reliable information about the religion and its people can be hard to find. Some accounts produced by the LDS Church are glowing propaganda, while some written by outsiders or ex-Mormons are sensationalistic diatribes aimed at discrediting the Mormon faith.” However, “the truth lies somewhere in the middle, which is why you need this book. It joins a growing body of literature about Mormonism that aims to educate you—not to convert (or deconvert) you from what you already believe.”

It may be difficult for some to wrap their heads around Mormonism, however, Carter is able to lead the reader through the typical daily life of a majority of Mormons. There we are able to see the finite aspects of this religion and how they govern daily life. For instance, the Word of Wisdom is a strict dietary code that prohibits the consumption of both coffee and alcohol. Mormonism is a tiny, far-flung community compared with other religious groups, but also it’s a close, tight-knit community with a strong a sense of belonging as well as highly structured beliefs, values, and traditions. While most followers of the LDS Church and The Book of Mormon deviate little from set ways, change has been inevitable and will continue to be. How much and in what ways will Mormonism adapt to changing social mores and the needs of each new generation? Only the future will tell. Mormonsim For Beginners will be a valuable guide for anyone following the story.

Read more about Mormonism For Beginners and visit the For Beginners website to learn more about their titles.

“The flower doesn’t dream of the bee It blossoms and the bee comes”

Very much in line with this quote from Nepo’s The Book of Awakening, Janet Conner’s newest book The Lotus and The Lily uses the teachings of Buddha (Lotus) and Jesus (Lily) to discuss how to create a beautiful, abundant life. They both taught the same thing–and it’s not our popular understanding of the Law of Attraction. They did not say get clear about what you want. They said get clear about how you choose to live.

Do that, and you create a condition of receptivity that naturally attracts all that you want–and more. 

Wisdom for the real world

Nobel-prize nominated Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh said: “Wisdom is a living stream, not an icon preserved in a museum. Only when we find the spring of wisdom in our own life can it flow to future generations.”

If you need some inspiration, Mark Nepo has a different spring of wisdom for every day of the year in The Book of Awakening, and Mary Paterson embarks on a pilgrimage to Plum Village, the retreat of Thich Nhat Hanh, to find some wisdom after crisis in The Monks and Me.

Rumi for the Holidays!

It’s September already, can you believe it? First comes back-to-school, then the autumn leaves and wool mittens come out in full force, and before you know it: the holidays arrive. Here at Red Wheel/Weiser we were particularly excited to send out copies of our new Rumi’s Little Book of Life: The Garden of the Soul, the Heart, and the Spirit. A little book packed with a lot of inspirational and heartwarming quotes from the 13th Century Persian, Muslim poet. Paired with Rumi’s Little Book of Love andRumi: Whispers of the Beloved, this would make the perfect holiday gift for any loved one, or even a thoughtful teacher-appreciation gift for back-to-school!

 Rumi: Whispers of the Beloved

Rumi’s Little Book of Life: The Garden of the Soul, the Heart, and the Spirit

Rumi’s Little Book of Love 

The Knots Prayer

An anonymously written prayer, popularized by internet viral sharing and referenced in Rev. Linda Martella-Whitsett’s How To Pray Without Talking to God:

Dear God:

Please untie the knots that are in my mind, my heart and my life.

Remove the have nots, the can nots, and the do nots that I have in my mind

Erase the will nots, may nots, might nots that may find a home in my heart.

Release me from the could nots, would not,s and should nots that obstruct my life.

And most of all, dear God, I ask that you remove from my mind,

my heart, and my life all of the “am nots” that I have allowed

to hold me back, especially the thought that I am not good enough.


Four Noble Truths of Suffering

For the those interested in the foundations of Buddhist belief, Zenju Earthlyn Manuel’s Tell Me Something About Buddhism: Questions and Answers for the Curious Beginner can be a helpful introduction. In times of turbulence, remembering the simple teachings of Buddha, the Four Noble Truths of Suffering in particular, can help soothe the spirit.

“Once Buddha became aware of all the suffering that had been hidden from him, including old age, sickness, birth, and death, he left his family’s palace. He went to many teachers to understand their suffering, and they taught him various lessons about ending suffering. He excelled with all of his teachers, to the point that they asked him to become a teacher. However, Buddha refused their invitations to teach, feeling he had not yet been fully awakened to the condition of suffering . He continued his journey…

  1. There is suffering.
  2. There is a cause for suffering.
  3. There is cessation of suffering.
  4. There is a path leading to the end of suffering, called the Eightfold Path.”