S A I N T S: FIRST IMPRESSIONS…
Saints: The Standard of Truth 1815-1846, 1:0:0
PROS: Economy. I am totally impressed with the fact that a quality paperback, 700 ‘warm white’ pages in length, was priced so reasonably. If you’re paying more than 10 bucks for it, you’re being taken. As is usually the case, the church takes great care in a quality presentation. For these reasons, I highly recommend people collect this series.
CONS: Being a history buff, I’m disturbed by the fact that a series of books is being produced in such a revisionist manner. Of course, I understand that the volume of history available is difficult for the average member to digest, and that the Joseph Smith Papers is a tremendous resource for details. It’s absurd to assume that people can drop a grand on the JSP collection or Vogel’s History of the Church to get the REAL data. What’s even more absurd is to think that active members would have the desire to go through the details of a ‘less than favorable’ account of its true history.
‘SAINTS’ is the alternative. It’s admittedly written at the Junior-High level and presented in narrative fashion to help hold interest. In some respects, I see this as being a ‘PRO,’ since it is certainly more compelling to read, and it’s beneficial that church members become at least ‘somewhat familiar’ with history. As such, it’s a good read, but the reader needs to become a student and STUDY also. This is a daunting proposition, since it’s difficult to get the average LDS reader to make it through the Book of Mormon even one time.
Another first impression, immediate distraction for me, is the fact that the font size and line spacing is what you’d find in a ‘Goosebumps’ thriller; in keeping with the Junior-High feel. Conversely, the footnotes are far smaller than average. This gives one pause as to if the church really wants people to ‘dig in,’ though the sources are reliable, yet carefully, chosen. You’ll not find McConkie, B.K. Packer, or Kimball’s “Miracle of Forgiveness” quotations within its pages. The illustrations are cartoonish, and the overall feel of the book lends itself to not being taken seriously. Yet I do, since the sugar-coating and fact massaging needs to be exposed.
As I read through the volumes, I’ll present issues where the church has intentionally cleaned-up the data to make it more palatable. I might even offer a “RE-rewrite” of certain passages.