Book Review — Mormons: Tall Tales & Truths

Timmy came home from his friend’s house and asked, “Daddy, where did I come from?” With embarrassment on his face, the father stuttered and stammered and began to tell Timmy about the birds and the bees. Half an hour later, the father stopped talking, and Timmy said, “Joe is from New Jersey.” Questions about Mormons are like that. People don’t want long answers.

Mormons: Tall Tales & Truths is a book that gives short and simple answers to questions often asked of church members. The author, Jenni Rose Maiava, is not a general officer of the Relief Society or Primary organizations. She is just a typical member of the church, like you and me. She has been asked many questions by her friends and acquaintances, and she has learned to give simple answers. This book is a result of her years of answering questions.

The book is a small book, and each “chapter” focuses on one question. Most chapters are about one page long, and the answers are simple but sufficient for first answers. For example, she has been asked if Mormons had to dress up to go to church. This is her answer.

My parents always encouraged us to invite our friends to church. In middle school and high school, I regularly had friends with me at church and I often attended their church meetings. The first visit always ended with questions about the way we dress. “Why does everyone wear dresses and shirts and ties to church? Can’t you wear whatever you want to church?

I remember the first time I went to church with my best friend in middle school. She was Methodist. I wore a skirt, and she showed up in jeans and t-shirt. She also had half of her head shaved and black fingernail polish on. If she’d showed up at our ward, she would have been instantly pegged as an investigator.

When I was growing up we always got our Sunday clothes ready the night before. My mom still says, if asked what to wear to an event, “Sunday best.”

The idea of presenting yourself well-groomed and in your best clothes is taught from an early age in our church. The primary age kids even sing a fun song about how Saturday is a day to get ready for Sunday. We believe that how we dress shows our respect for Heavenly Father. There is also the belief that how we dress affects how we behave. Wearing a swimsuit and shorts to the beach is appropriate for the activities you are going to engage in; but wearing those clothes to church would not put you in the mindframe to sit reverently and worship.

The church has published a pamphlet, “For the Strength of Youth”, that defines standards we hope our youth follow. One of the topics is dressing modestly. The way we dress makes a statement about who we are and has an effect on how we behave. Our youth are encouraged to dress and behave in a way that allows them to have the Spirit of God with them and enables them to live up to their standards.

My dad always says, wear the appropriate equipment for the activity you are about to engage in.

You may not agree with all of the answers given in the book, or you might express the answers differently, and that is fine. The most important principle I gained from reading the book is that in answering questions about the church, I should say something simple and direct that people can understand and relate to, and that the Spirit can testify to.

Copyright ⓒ Jenni Rose Maivai 2011
Millennial Mind Publishing
An imprint of American Book Publishing

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