Latter Days

Coke Newell, Author, Clayton Corey Newell, Author
Coke Newell, Author, Clayton Corey Newell, Author St. Martin's Press $24.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-312-24108-7
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-312-28043-7
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Newell, a media resource development manager at the headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, provides an insider's (and sometimes heavily insular) view of Mormon theology and history. Rather than focusing on Mormons' much-commented-upon practices (e.g., tithing, wearing temple garments and eschewing coffee, tobacco and alcohol) Newell instead highlights Mormons' distinctive beliefs. These include the ideas that Eve's transgression was ""a brilliant move,"" enabling humankind to bear children and thereby obey the commandment of replenishing the earth; that the resurrected Christ visited his ""other sheep"" in America, descendents of a group that the Book of Mormon records had fled Jerusalem centuries earlier; that Native Americans are the contemporary descendants of these Book of Mormon peoples; and that the Garden of Eden was geographically located in Jackson County, Mo. Newell also discusses the extraordinary Mormon commitment to ""agency,"" or free will, a doctrine that is operative throughout eternity, not just on Earth. (Human souls, according to Mormon theology, have a premortal existence in which they may decide to follow their elder brother Jesus' example and undertake a mortal life, with all of its attending trials, in the hopes of one day returning to their heavenly parents.) Despite its intriguing and fresh topic, however, Newell's book is poorly written, with abrupt, short paragraphs tumbling upon one another without transition or adequate explanation. (May)
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