George B. Handley is a humanities professor at Brigham Young University. He has a BA from Stanford University and an MA and PhD from UC Berkely. This book, part of the Maxwell Institute’s “Living Faith” series, is a collection of personal essays he has written about “the seamlessness of humanities and belief, intellect and faith” (page XI).
Handley explains in the preface that “What keeps me in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint and what keeps me working at living according to its principles is the fundamental fact that I accept the tenets of my faith as plausible, compelling, and deeply moving. They make sense to me intellectually. More importantly, they have taken root in my very being as a result of acts of faith that brought personal witnesses of the gospel’s spiritual truths” (page XII).
There are several essays that I particularly enjoyed. In “Why I Am a Christian,” he says “We talk of sin as a deliberate rejection of God, but sin often feels to me more like being a slave to myself, unable to escape my own psychology, genes, upbringing, habits, or personality even and especially when I am aware that life calls me to better habits and deeper commitments” (page 3). He further explains, “nothing has given me more confidence in the living reality of Jesus Christ as the Redeemer and resurrected Son of God than the way that my trust in him has converted my awareness of my insufficiencies into hope, into a palpable increase of love for myself, for others, and for life itself that is beyond my natural instincts…. A willingness to repent and then to declare my faith has opened me to deeper appreciation for the meaning and power of Christ’s atonement” (pages 4-5). He also makes the important distinction that “Christ’s pure love is not the same thing as blanket tolerance for all human behavior or belief” (page 7). [Read more…] about Book Review: If Truth Were a Child: Essays