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Books about Heaven

April 23, 2008

So at Segullah tomorrow I’m reviewing Coke Newell’s On the Road to Heaven. Great book. But I just finished rereading Elder Groberg’s memoir, The Other Side of Heaven. And it’s great, in a different way. It feels like… like an extended Conference talk, full of personal stories that lend it power. Newell’s book is powerful because of the journey–he tells us where he came from, and that makes his conversion story resonate. It’s an autobiographical novel, though, not a Conference talk.

But Elder Groberg’s book has a definite preaching element to it–it’s both his story, and what he wants us to learn from his story. The book has power because of his deep, absolute righteousness and humility. There’s the classic story of the Lord’s wind, with the old Tongan man rowing the boat when the wind didn’t blow them there… or the amazing story of Elder Groberg’s humble response to his mission president’s criticism. I came away from rereading it full of this desire to do better and be better, not in a guilty way or a heavy way, but in a hopeful, broken-heart-contrite-spirit kind of way.

I love biography. It’s one of my favorite genres. I love stories about real people who overcome weaknesses and do good things… gives me hope for myself and my capacity to change. I came away from The Other Side of Heaven deeply grateful to Elder Groberg for being willing to share so many personal stories with us–I know they are sacred to him, but his openness has blessed me and many others.

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