Quote of the Week

"I assure you that if you have to wait even until the next life to be blessed with a choice companion, God will surely compensate you."
President Ezra T. Benson, To the Single Adult Sisters of the Church, 1988.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Work and the Glory 20th Anniversary

    Some books are like old friends, every once in a while you have to go back and see how they’re doing. Perhaps that’s what inspired me to go my bookcase and retrieve the first volume in a much loved bestselling series I hadn’t read in several years. Glancing at the publication date I was surprised to note it had been over twenty years since this book hit the shelves with no commemoration of its birth. How could that be?

    I remember the first time I read Gerald N. Lund’s Work and the Glory series as a college student in 1994. Word of mouth introduced me to the first volume, Pillar of Light, which I found so enchanting, I longed to step into the pages of the book and live the church history saga right along with the fictional Steed family. When Joseph Smith confided to Nathan his encounter in the Sacred Grove, the burning in my twenty year-old bosom took me completely by surprise. Being a lifelong member, I knew about the First Vision and the Book of Mormon yet reading about it in a fictional setting suddenly made it all come alive. Through Lund’s miraculous storytelling, Joseph Smith had been transformed from an obscure “founding father” into a real human being. As the centuries between 1820 and 1994 melted away, I became caught up in the joys and sorrows of the Steed family. I didn’t just know anymore, I KNEW that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that the Book of Mormon was true. Like millions of other readers, I was re-converted to my own faith right along with those early saints.

     When Christmas of 1994 came that year, I was like Laura Ingalls and her new doll in Little House in the Big Woods. For the entire day my arms cradled that copy of A Season of Joy while I snuck quick peeks between activities in happy anticipation of the reading experience to come. I had the Work and the Glory Calendar, the CDs, and packed the theater with other fans for the 2004 movie adaptation.

    This was before Harry Potter and Twilight; the Internet was still in its infancy, never before had a series of books captured the LDS market like Gerald Lund’s which went on to sell millions of copies for Bookcraft and to inspire other LDS writers such as Ron Carter and Dean Hughes to create their own bestselling historical series. Who would’ve thought after twenty years this remarkable fictional family, the Steeds, who converted us to the church would become as obsolete as the idea of family itself? We’ve had plenty of stories from the white, Caucasian, British descendants of the church. I wonder who will be the next young, promising writer, perhaps South American or Asian, to pick up the baton and share their own country’s story of the restoration of the gospel of Christ?    

    Now, here we are, over twenty years later: LDS missionaries sing and dance on Broadway, two Mormon hopefuls run for president, youth of the world plug themselves into yet another electronic device, cohabitation runs rampant among single adults and while 137 temples dot the earth you’d be hard pressed to find even that many temple marriages in just one typical LDS ward. What a remarkably simplistic world those 1800's-era Steeds enjoyed! So, here we have this antiquated book series, this remarkable missionary tool, sitting all but forgotten. I think a wake-up call is in order and here’s one avid reader who hasn’t forgotten the series that reminded her just how great and glorious this work was and still is.

Happy 21st birthday Work and the Glory.

Here is my Work and the Glory Book Blog with a chapter by chapter summary of all ten volumes. Happy Reading!

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