Reviewed by Michael A. Hickman for the Association for Mormon Letters
We as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are told both in the written Standard Works of the church and by modern day revelation that we are an elect, a chosen and royal generation belonging to the royal house of God, “The only true and living church on the face of the earth.” (Doctrine and Covenants 1:30) However, the purpose of this bi-authored book is to clarify for its members “the Lord’s meaning of being chosen.” (p. vii) Are the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints more liable today to misinterpret their call of being the elect of God to mean something that it is not? This according the authors may cause “a number of problematic consequences…” (p. vii)
Never has a book been more relevant and appropriate than this book has been for our egotistic world that we live in today. For ages, the world has been anxiously engaged in creating selfish avenues. According to the authors, we live in a world of culture alarmingly concerned “with being unique, special, and famous that some psychologists think may be unmatched in history.” (p. 4) The grandeur of our world has become expressed in self-admiration, self-entitlement, self-importance, self-enhancement, self-improvement, self-glorification, self-concern, self-actualization, “look at me, think of me, respond to me, follow me.” (p. 16)
The authors give us great and entertaining psychological insights into the narcissistic world in which we live today, explaining what it is that culturally provides us with the desire to feel special and so terribly focused on individualism. We learn the truth and the lie about what it means to be special, why it is important to distinguish between the two and how we can feel special without the praise and glorification of the world. The book is structured with ten chapters, each dedicated to thwart the satanic influences of pride through the teachings found in the Standard Works and modern day prophets and apostles.
In this book, the authors take our hands into the lives of four people: the Pharisee, the Egoist, the Nihilist, and the Disciple. Within each of these groups is a world of wisdom that the members of the church can learn from in order to impede the tsunami of selfish pride. Although I consider myself an active member of the LDS church, I have found areas of my life wherein I am responsible for many Pharisaical, egotistical and even nihilist beliefs and characteristics of which I am ashamed.
I do not know if this was authors intent of writing the book but I often felt that this book helped me see the real person that I am with the desire to change.
“The feelings of being special that accompany narcissism…have now become a full blown cultural epidemic sweeping over our society…” (p. 4) Western culture has supplied its people with tools to help us feel special. American Idol, The X-Factor, The Voice, MTV’s I Want a Famous Face, MTV Cribs, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and YouTube, “all present the same message: Look at me and pay attention to what I do.” (p. 16) We all want to feel special and we all need to feel special. However, there is a truth and a lie calling out to each of us. The truth is that we are all special in the eyes of a loving Heavenly Father. Yet the invitation continues from unholy sources among us that we are more special than others are. This book tackles the onslaught of pride; that never-ending satanic attribute, so widely and subtly accepted even among the Saints. The mandate to all members of Christ’s church is to “seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study…” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:11) and this is what I consider to be among the best books.