"THE SABBATH: His Gift to Us, Our Gift to Him," by Susan Easton Black, Jack R. Christianson, Ed J. Pinegar, Toni Sorenson, Heather B. Moore, Richard J. Allen, Mary Jane Woodger, George D. Durrant and Dennis C. Gaunt, Covenant Communications, $11.99, 120 pages (nf)
"The Sabbath: His Gift to Us, Our Gift to Him" is a collection of nine personal essays by notable LDS authors like Susan Easton Black, Ed J. Pinegar and George D. Durrant that offers understanding and guidance on Sabbath Day observance.
With only so many scriptures, hymns and general conference talks of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from which the authors can base their discussion on Sabbath worship, one would expect to find a large amount of overlap in the essays. Remarkably, however, there is neither redundancy nor the sense that each author has been assigned a particular facet of the Sabbath to discuss. The overarching tone is congenial and personal, with many personal stories and testimonies shared to make the book feel less like being lectured and more like being loved.
While there is discussion about how the authors came to understood what proper Sunday worship should look like for them, "The Sabbath: His Gift to Us, Our Gift to Him" manages not to prescribe lists of behavioral do's and don'ts. Rather, it informs the reader about the background and purpose of the sabbath and encourages honest introspection of personal attitudes on the subject. It offers accounts of the authors' experiences in making Sundays more meaningful, but stays appropriately far from implying that the reader should act the same.
Ultimately, though, "The Sabbath" does not offer much insight or instruction that readers cannot find from general conference talks or any of countless priesthood or Relief Society lessons on the topic. The authors often express feelings of inadequacy in how they taught the principle to their children and in knowing exactly how to apply it to others. If readers wanted to come to know how to keep the Sabbath day holy, their time would likely be better spent reading the words of the prophets on the subject.
Jennifer Ball is a freelance journalist out of Los Angeles specializing in food criticism and LDS media.