Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day and a Book Review: Defenders of Faith

I hope all of you are enjoying your Memorial Day with family and friends.  We're having a big family party at our house today, with over fifty guests, so you can imagine what I've been doing today.

As most of you know, my books have a lot of military in them and I've been privileged to meet and get to know real soldiers as I've researched.  I am so grateful for their sacrifice and for what their service to our country means to people around the world.

Because of this, when I met Douglas J. Bell at a his booksigning for Defenders of the Faith:  The Book of Mormon from a Soldier's Perspective on Saturday, I was incredibly impressed by what he had to say.  He is a former military commander who served in Kuwait and Iraq in an intelligence unit and while he was stationed there, the so-called "war chapters" in the Book of Mormon started to take on entirely different meaning for him.  He had taught Book of Mormon courses at Brigham Young University, but being in a war zone changed him and changed his perspectives.

I started reading the book as soon as I got home.  From the introduction we are pulled into the author's life and relating it to the Book of Mormon.  For example, they were trained to set up a prison of war detention facility in northern Iraq for interrogations, but they got sent to Kuwait to live in tents in the desert.  The unit was not happy. It was hot in Kuwait so they had a hard time sleeping, during the day the wind would stir up a flour-like dust that stuck to everything, and it made everyone irritable and angry.  Mr. Bell realized that with the complaining, he had become like Laman and Lemuel because he wanted the comforts of home, like they did, he hated the desert and intense heat, he didn't understand where he was destined to go since the original mission had been scrapped and he was resenting the people who brought him there.  The author talks about how his behavior mirrors the two sons of Lehi who didn't want to leave their home in Jerusalem and go near the deserts of the Red Sea and rebelled against their father.  And once I read about the conditions they faced, it gave me a new perspective on Laman and Lemuel myself.  It just made me think about things in a new way.

Of course, once the author realized what was happening, he was better able to change his attitude.  He talks about the Iraqi military commanders he met, the fellow soldiers he served with, and how his perspective was so changed as to what was important.  The rest of the book is like that as he talks about the great warrior-prophets like Nephi (there is a beautiful soldier's song and explanation attributed to him), the Stripling Warriors and why they remembered their mothers so well, Alma as a defender of freedom and how his battle with Amlici is reminiscent of other great battles, Captain Moroni and his band of brothers, and Ammon to name a few.  I had never thought about these men in the way he described and I loved his military insight into what was important to them and how the self-discipline of the military would have helped these men in their religion and beliefs of the Savior as well.

So, if you are looking for a read that is intriguing and well as educational, this is the read for you and is especially apropos for Memorial Day.  (You can click here for his author website)

Here is the back copy:

Learn about the leaders of the Book of Mormon in an incredible new way---from a latter-day soldier's perspective. The heroes of the Book of Mormon were not only great prophets, but were also warriors, patriots, and defenders of liberty. They give depth to the witness that Jesus Christ is our Savior. Strengthen your testimony and love of these inspiring men with the unique perspective of a modern warrior.


Debra Erfert said...

What dedication you have to your blog, Julie. Today is a holiday, and you still found time to write a spot.

This sounds like an interesting book. How wonderful you got to meet and talk with DJ Bell in person.

Jon Spell said...

That's kind of cool to have an interesting perspective on the battle parts of the Book of Mormon. I've always thought those sections detracted from the overall message, but maybe it works for some people, if not for me.

And you know, nobody is ever sympathetic to Laman and Lemuel, having to put up with their holier-than-thou brother. =)