I attended Woman’s Conference this year at BYU and attended a class where Fiona Givens gave a presentation titled: “Lord, I believe, help thou my unbelief.” From Mark 9:24. When the class was over I told my friend that I could listen at her feet all day. I couldn’t wait to get the books written with her husband Terryl Givens: The Crucible of Doubt and The God Who Weeps. I had surgery on my foot the first part of May and have been mostly off my feet for the last two weeks but I can say they have been perhaps the most 2 spiritual weeks of my life as I have spent the sweet hours reading these books. When I finished I had the desire to go to the book store and get a pile of books to pass out to my favorite people. The beginning pages of The God Who Weeps, has 8 recommendations from mostly non-Mormon scholars. This is how Robert P. George, Law professor at Princeton describes the book:
Writing from the perspective of Mormon faith, Terryl and Fiona Givens have produced a work of theological reflection that has much to offer not only to Latter-day Saints, but to intellectually and morally serious men and women of every religious persuasion who ponder the mystery of a God who, though profoundly transcendent, reveals Himself to us, offers us His friendship, and even shares our joys and sorrows. To be sure, readers who are not Latter-day Saints will learn from “The God Who Weeps” a great deal about what Mormons believe (including certain distinctively Mormon doctrines) and why they believe it. But that is only part of the value of the book. For even readers who do not share certain fundamental tenants of the LDS faith, but who believe in a personal, omnipotent and omniscient God, will benefit from the Givens’ thoughtful reflection on how such a God enters into the lives of imperfect creatures like ourselves, lighting our paths, lifting us up when we fall, and summoning us to share His divine life.”
Both of these beautifully written books are written with a perspective from prophets, scriptures, classical literature and inspired Christian thinkers. The ideas melt into your heart with a warmth and tenderness that is hard to describe. I will never see my deity quite the same after reading “The God Who Weeps.” These books are not quick reads but take thoughtful attention, sometimes reading passages over several times to meld the meaning to your soul.
My patriarchal blessing tells me something that I have always known, that I have a gift of faith. But in these words I felt an understanding of those who struggle to believe and a hope that there is a way to function comfortably in doubt. Not that I don’t have questions, so the encouragements here have buoyed my simple faith also.
I am going to share the last page summation of the Crucible of Doubt.
So, here, in sum, are the principal reasons for “the hope that is in us.” We agree with Nathaniel Hawthorne, who believed that “our Creator would never have made such lovely days and have given us the deep hearts to enjoy them, above and beyond all thought, unless we were meant to be immortal.” And if we are immortal, no eternal existence makes sense separate and apart from an eternal community of loved ones, presided over by heavenly parents who set their hearts upon us. We could never love a God “without body, parts, or passions.” Who does not Himself feel love, or grief, or joy, or gladness. Christianity gave us a God who was willing to die on behalf of His creation; Joseph Smith added to that conception a God who intends our full participation in “the divine nature,” who will bestow upon every single one of His children all that they “are willing to receive.” And who made Himself vulnerable enough to weep at our pain and misery. That is a God to whom we are powerfully drawn, and whom we gladly worship.
We have seen the power of the gospel to transform human life. We can affirm, as Gerard Manley Hopkins did, that “Christ plays in ten thousand places, lovely in limbs and lovely in eyes, not his, to the Father, through the features of men’s faces.” In new converts and returned missionaries, who in their testimonies unexpectedly speak “with the tongues of angels,” a simple eloquence not of their own resources. In the parting words of a beloved friend near death, before whom the veil grows suddenly thin to transparency. In lives transformed and redirected, then imbued with sudden beauty, to rival anything narrated by and Elizabeth Gaskell or Victor Hugo.
Joseph Smith said, “You say honey is sweet, and so do I. I can also taste the spirit of eternal life. I know it is good; and when I tell you of these things which were given me by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, you are bound to receive them as sweet, and rejoice more and more.” We believe the doctrine of the Restoration to be true for the same reason: It tastes good.
I am not ready to lose the spirit of these books so I begin again.