Monday, January 10, 2011
Book Review: "Who's At The Door?"
I'm beginning this year's collection of blog posts with a book review of a new and exciting read. It's entitled: "Who's at the Door," written by Dan Harrington.
This book offers a unique perspective in comparison to the traditional "conversion" stories that many LDS books contain. It is written in first-person-narrative by Dan, who investigated the LDS Church quite thoroughly. This adventure began as a story idea for a local newspaper. Dan's research plunged him into an ongoing quest for truth as he met with a series of LDS missionaries during a two-year period. Extremely well-written and laced with humor, this work of non-fiction is an enjoyable experience. It presents food for thought when considering the process most investigators endure when learning about the LDS religion.
It struck a chord with me right off the bat as my three sons have served missions for the LDS Church in varied locations. One son served in Seattle, Washington, another in Brazil, and our youngest son served in Canada. I found myself comparing some of their experiences with those shared by Mr. Harrington. There were moments of head nodding and shaking as I read through the varied chapters. My heart sunk when I read about the ward member who was a repeated "no-show" during several appointments the elders tried to set up with Dan. I reflected on what my own sons have said about the importance of ward involvement when an investigator begins the journey of looking into the Church.
I think those of us who are born into the LDS Church take so much for granted. We don't realize how much there is to learn for those who are seeking truth and knowledge compliments of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is often a painful pilgrimage, and one that shouldn't be faced alone.
In some respects, we are all converts to the Gospel. My own journey along that path was filled with obstacles. I came from what would currently be classified as a "less-active" family. Friends, seminary teachers, and inspired YW leaders played a crucial role in my conversion process. And while attending Ricks College, I was still learning important gospel principles that my friends had cut their teeth on while quite young. I'll never forget the night I stared at my college roomies, thinking they were all extremely strange as they knelt together that first time for what they called "family prayer." I had no idea what they were talking about. I also learned about tithing, and Family Home Evening while in college mode.
Can I just say that my first attempt at presenting a FHE lesson was less than enjoyable? I had no idea what I was doing and when one rooomate made what she thought was a humorous observation, the unintended insult cut deep. Fortunately, the witness I had received about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon had been so intense, it was something I never questioned. So while many mistakes were made by myself and well-meaning ward members and friends, I continued forward, knowing that what mattered most was the nugget of truth that burned inside my heart.
As I read "Who's At The Door?" I identified quite strongly with Dan Harrington. While I didn't have his experience of meeting with missionaries, I did spend many hours discussing gospel doctrine with friends, leaders, and teachers. Their testimonies laid the foundation for me to gain my own witness. Their example and teachings gave me the courage to press forward despite the uphill battle I waged with my father who was often antagonistic toward the Church.
My hat is off to Dan. He has written an honest treatise about a subject that is close to many hearts. Though his journey differed from mine, I respect his opinion and hope that one day he will succeed in his quest. I highly recommend his book. I think it will be an important resource for anyone making this same journey, or for those who are helping anyone involved in the crusade for truth. It will inspire smiles, laughs, and a bit of soul-searching as we reflect on questions we've all asked from time to time.
You can purchase a copy of this book by clicking on this link: Buy Dan's book
And here's a great interview with Dan: Dan's Interview