Facebook Twitter



After all the eulogies, elegies and praise that were showered on Lowell Bennion when he passed away earlier this year, it's only fitting the LDS writer, teacher and humanitarian would have the last word.

That word can be found in "How Can I Help?" a new volume from Aspen Books. It is Bennion's final, personally authorized collection of meditations.And the message is vintage Bennion. From page one the book seems to say to readers, "Enough about me; what about you?"

Being Lowell Bennion could not have been easy. The more he deflected attention from himself, the more attention he got for being the kind of man who deflected attention from himself.

That is the cross that all truly spiritual writers have to bear.

I've seen it at work in the life of Gerald Lund, for instance, the author of the "Work and the Glory" series.

You don't have to be a stockbroker to know that Lund has made many, many pesos from those books. But when you meet the man, you feel you're meeting the author's mild-mannered, soft-spoken personal secretary - not the celebrated writer himself.

Lund looks, acts and dresses like a small-town Gospel Doctrine teacher. He reminds me of my Uncle Fred.

As with Lowell Bennion, Lund has found success as a writer by refusing to allow himself to be contaminated by success. Their strength comes from believing their strength isn't their own. They're just messengers.

True humility is the magic feather that keeps such people afloat. They know once the Rolex watch shows up on the wrist, once the Jaguar shows up in the driveway, the jig's up. It's a long fall. They've seen all the cautionary tales from the past - inside Utah and out.

Truly spiritual writers flee fame the way they'd flee a forest fire. And by running away, they fan the flames of celebrity even more.

Just by telling you all this, I've made Gerald Lund's life hotter.

As for Bennion, he opens his last book with the scripture about losing your life in order to find it. As he explains it, the only way to find self-satisfaction is to avoid - at all costs - feeling self-satisfied.

I've read the parables and teachings of Jesus. I know that 90 percent of them have "humility" as their primary or secondary lesson.

But I fail when it comes to pride. I'm pretty self-congratulatory. So I can only wonder what it was like for Lowell Bennion - being one of the most revered souls in his culture while refusing to accept - or even acknowledge - that fact.

Some people wondered if he'd be able to avoid the seductive whispers of notoriety and endure to the end.

His last testament, "How Can I Help?" shows that he did.

And my column here - a column that holds him up as a champion - would have turned me into one more Satan he'd be forced to put behind him.